June 10, 2016

Kaine Joins Bipartisan Group Of Senators In Urging Greater Focus On Access To Care, Reducing High Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Patients With Chronic Diseases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After hearing from concerned patients, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined a bipartisan group of eight senators calling on U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) to review patient perspectives on access to health care and the impact of high out-of-pocket expenses. The Senators emphasized that certain health care trends, such as high out-of-pocket costs, often prevent patients with chronic diseases from getting the medicine and treatment they need.

“We have heard from several patient groups with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and psoriasis, on the difficulties of accessing [health] care and treatment. Several health care trends make it difficult for patients to access their care, including high out-of-pocket costs…causing a significant financial burden and leading to poor adherence and non-adherence,” the Senators wrote. “We applaud your work to continue to strengthen the nation's health system and hope that you will hold a hearing, roundtable, or other mechanism to review the patient perspective on high out-of-pocket costs and their ability to access care.”

Joining Kaine in signing the letter are U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) signed the letter.

The full text of the letter is available online and below:

The Honorable Lamar Alexander                               The Honorable Patty Murray

Chairman                                                                    Ranking Member

Senate Health, Education, Labor,                               Senate Health, Education, Labor,

    and Pensions Committee                                             and Pensions Committee

428 Dirksen Senate Office Building                            428 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510                                             Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

Thank you for your leadership this year to examine how Congress can facilitate innovative drug development as well as improve America's health care system. We have heard from several patient groups with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and psoriasis, on the difficulties of accessing care and treatment. We write to request that you review patient perspectives on access to care, particularly on high out-of-pocket costs for treatment.

Several health care trends make it difficult for patients to access their care, including high out-of-pocket costs. The use of specialty tiers as well as co-insurance is skyrocketing. Cost sharing can reach as high as 30%-60%, causing a significant financial burden and leading to poor adherence and non-adherence. Studies demonstrate that rates of prescription abandonment begin at a cost sharing level of $100 per month and increase significantly when the cost sharing reaches $500 per month.

Innovative medicines and treatment advancements have greatly improved the quality of life for patients suffering from debilitating, chronic diseases. Accessing the care needed is critical for these patients to achieve optimal health outcomes. Delays in treatment can result in irreversible disease progression and even, exacerbate the cost of care for both the patient and the health system.

Thank you for your consideration. We applaud your work to continue to strengthen the nation's health system and hope that you will hold a hearing, roundtable, or other mechanism to review the patient perspective on high out-of-pocket costs and their ability to access care.

Sincerely,

CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY 
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO
KELLY AYOTTE
MICHAEL F. BENNET
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
TIM KAINE
ANGUS S. KING, JR.                                                
AMY KLOBUCHAR
BRIAN SCHATZ                                                    
CHARLES E. SCHUMER

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