New Law Requires Insurers to Cover Cancer Trials

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN — Gov. Steve Bullock has signed into law a measure that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for cancer patients participating in clinical trials.

Bullock signed Senate Bill 55 Monday flanked by Republican and Democratic lawmakers in a ceremony at Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported in a story published Tuesday.

Center manager Spencer Green said there are between 30 and 40 patients participating in clinical trials at the hospital, many of whom were faced with insurers denying them treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.

One of those patients is Melinda Bachini, who has a rare cancer called cholangiocarcinoma that attacks her bile ducts.

She has been undergoing a clinical trial for the past year that does not involve radiation or chemotherapy, even though her insurer denied coverage, she said.

“In the beginning, there was no treatment for me, so the only option was clinical trials, but insurance denied it,” Bachini said. “We knew it was the only way I’d survive. Now I can rest easy knowing that my insurance would have to pay.”

Bullock said his own father was diagnosed with lung cancer and was able to get into a clinical trial.

“You want the best for your loved ones without” having to think about medical bills, he said.

Belgrade mother and nurse Hillary Waldeisen said her family has had to fight insurance companies to pay for treatment for her 7-year-old daughter, Lucy, who has neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer.

“Obviously, this hits close to home,” she said. “I’m relieved that other people won’t have to worry about that. The last thing you want to worry about is your insurance when you’re going through that.”

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