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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is pleased to highlight today’s major media coverage of an issue of critical importance to blood cancer patients, by influential Associated Press health care policy reporter, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.


Alonso-Zaldivar’s article, “Huge Drug Cost Disparities Seen in Health Overhaul,” addresses problems LLS identified with California's new healthcare exchange.


Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals who don’t get coverage through their employer, and don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, will be required to purchase health insurance through health insurance "exchanges" (now called "marketplaces") being set up in each state. Patients that enroll in California’s marketplace plan may be subject to excessively high co-insurance payments - especially those that require certain innovative, life-saving therapies.


For example, a patient in California with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) who takes one of the lifesaving daily standard treatments might have to pay co-insurance as high as 30% of the cost of the drug –amounting to as much as $2,000 a month. In comparison, New York State’s plan would limit copays to no more than $70 a month for the same medication.


LLS Senior Vice President of Public Policy Brian Rosen makes the point that "The intent of the Affordable Care Act is to make sure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care”… He adds that there is a danger that the insurance marketplaces "will discriminate against the patients with the highest medical need. That would completely undermine the spirit of the ACA."


CML patient Lisa Lusk, an LLS patient advocate who is also quoted in the article takes Tasigna®, another costly CML drug. Lusk is concerned that she will face high out of pocket costs for her medication when she returns to work, if she does not receive insurance through her employer.


"I'll just be working to pay for my medications," she states.


The article has been widely picked up by media outlets across the country today.


All Americans should be aware that decisions are being made now about how plans under the state health care marketplaces will work under the Affordable Care Act. Insurers have been provided little guidance on which specialty medications should be covered and how much a patient should be charged for these therapies, leaving cancer patients extremely vulnerable. LLS is issuing a "Call to Action" for you to share this AP article with your state legislators and governors.  Please urge tell them to ensure that plans participating in the healthcare exchanges must guarantee all patients access to quality, affordable, coordinated care. Click here to find contact information for your legislators. ACT NOW!


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