Senate Approves Sen. Bates' Bill to Require All Insurance Companies to Cover Anticancer Medical Devices

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The California State Senate has unanimously approved Senate Bill 746 by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) that would require all health care insurance providers, that already cover chemotherapy or radiation therapy, to cover anticancer medical devices as of January 1, 2020.

“No one should be denied access to a potentially life-saving anticancer treatment due to the lack of clarity in state law,” said Senator Bates. “My bill will update the law to ensure that more cancer patients can receive the treatment they need. I thank my Senate colleagues for their strong support of my bill and I hope to see the same support in the Assembly.”

Senator Bates authored SB 746 after learning about a breakthrough treatment of solid tumor cancers called “Tumor Treating Fields” (TTF) therapy. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the therapy for the treatment of glioblastoma (GBM) brain cancer under the pre-market approval process for Class III medical devices. GBM is the most common and aggressive primary brain cancer and typically progresses rapidly with average life expectancy from initial diagnosis (for a patient not treated with TTF) of approximately 14 months and from recurrence of approximately 3 months.

However, existing state law does not have a definition for anticancer medical devices such as TTF therapy. SB 746 would fix this by defining an anticancer medical device as a device that is approved by the FDA, used primarily outside of a medical treatment facility, and determined to be necessary in the treatment of cancer.

Currently, more than 210 million Americans are covered for TTF therapy through private insurance and health plans, as well as through public coverage. However, not all health care plans have approved coverage for future costs of anticancer medical devices. In January 2019, the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) found that anticancer medical devices are a basic health care service in the treatment of cancer and should be covered.

SB 746 will next head to the State Assembly for its consideration.