Legislation Protecting Patient Access to Timely Care Introduced in Senate

October 1, 2019

Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK), Doug Jones (AL), and Bill Cassidy (LA) introduced S. 2546, the Safe Step Act of 2019, in the U.S. Senate. If enacted into law, the bill would ensure patients with private insurance have reasonable protections against harmful step therapy practices. ASCO applauds the filing of this bipartisan measure to help ensure patients have timely access to care.

"Time is of the essence when treating serious diseases such as cancer, and we have seen the effects of care delays on our patients, which include irreversible disease progression," said ASCO President Howard A. "Skip" Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO. "We're pleased that the Senate has joined the House in working to pass legislation that provides critical guardrails to step therapy processes to help patients access potentially lifesaving medications in a timely manner."

Step therapy requires patients to try and fail to have a desired clinical outcome on a lower cost medication before they can access the medication prescribed by their health care provider. The 'Safe Step Act' would not ban step therapy, but it would give doctors a transparent and standardized process to appeal step therapy requirements for patients needing a particular treatment, putting common-sense parameters and reasonable timelines around the practice.  

S. 2546 is a companion bill to H.R. 2279, also titled the Safe Step Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year. In addition to the support of the leading sponsors, S. 2546 has five bipartisan original co-sponsors: Sens. Maggie Hassan (NH), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), Jacky Rosen (NV), Kevin Cramer (ND), and Angus King (ME).

Bookmark ASCO in Action for updates on the Safe Step Act and all efforts to ensure timely access to high-quality cancer care.