Ads detail potential danger of changing six protected classes; urge HHS and Congress to halt proposal
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is launching a new print and digital ad campaign today emphasizing the dangerous impact that proposed changes to Medicare Part D's six protected classes could have on patients' access to affordable drug therapies.
The ad headline reads, "When you limit drug therapies, you threaten lives," and calls on Congress and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to stop the proposed changes in order to protect timely access to lifesaving medicines for patients living with cancer, organ transplants, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, or mental illness.
"Drug therapies play a crucial role in the treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses," said Chris Hansen, ACS CAN president. "Allowing health plans to delay access to potentially lifesaving medications interferes with a doctor-recommended course of treatment and poses significant and potentially life-threatening risks for patients."
The six protected classes policy was established more than a decade ago to ensure Medicare beneficiaries were able to access innovative therapies. Currently, Medicare Part D plan sponsors are required to cover all or substantially all drug therapies in the designated six protected classes. In November 2018 the Department of Health and Human Services announced a proposal to alter rules around Medicare Part D's six protected classes to allow plan sponsors to use utilization management tools – including step therapy and prior authorization – to limit access to protected class drug therapies.
"Allowing greater use of step therapy and prior authorization could delay a patient's access to cutting-edge, FDA-approved therapies, potentially interrupting or hindering their recommended course of treatment and ability to manage their disease," Chris said. "We urge Secretary Azar and Congress to halt the proposed changes to Medicare Part D's six protected classes, which could delay access to lifesaving medicines for patients with cancer, organ transplants, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS or mental illness."
Nearly 60 patient and provider organizations have joined ACS CAN's ad campaign, which represents the widespread opposition to policy changes that pose significant potential risk to patients with serious medical conditions. The campaign will run in print and digital national and Capitol Hill publications through the first week of February, following the close of the public comment period for the proposed rule on Jan. 25.