Proposed legislation seeks to expand health insurance benefits in R.I.

By Mark Iandolo | Mar 4, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) — Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin filed legislation to expand health insurance coverage for disabling or life-threatening chronic diseases by including off-label products.

The legislation is mainly targeted at helping cancer patients. It would mandate that health insurance providers cannot exclude coverage of prescription drugs for life-threatening diseases not approved by the FDA if those drugs are recognized for their treatment capabilities in medical literature or one of the standard reference compendia.

"More than 1 in 5 prescriptions in the United States are written for off label uses, however, insurers are free to deny coverage," Kilmartin said. "This is why states have laws safeguarding coverage for patients with disabling, chronic or life-threatening conditions. This act ensures that Rhode Islanders have the appropriate insurance coverage for the treatment that their medical professionals believe is necessary to treat their condition. Rhode Islanders facing disabling or life-threatening chronic diseases should never be in a position to turn down treatment recommended by their doctor due to the fact that insurance will not cover it."

The legislation is sponsored by state Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D–Warwick) and Sen. William A. Walaska (D–Warwick).

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