Proton Therapy Cancer Treatment Legislation Moves to House for Consideration

By Jeremy Coumbes on March 10, 2023 at 12:26pm

An area legislator is working to make it easier for cancer patients to receive proton therapy as part of their treatment program.

94th District Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb says while proton therapy is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, insurance companies often restrict or refuse coverage.

For the past two years, Hammond has been seeking to ensure that coverage is provided to all insureds. She says her office has been working with not only experts in the proton therapy field, but also insurers to broaden its availability.

Proton therapy is a very effective treatment for certain types of cancer. The constituent bill that I introduced last year was for a constituent that had brain cancer. She was told that the proton therapy was the option that she should take for her treatment. However, it was not an in-network expense so they paid tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket. That being said she is doing wonderfully as a result of the treatment.”

Under Hammond’s proposed legislation the treatment of cancer would not apply a higher standard of clinical evidence for the coverage of proton beam therapy than the insurer applies for the coverage of any other form of radiation therapy treatment.

Proton beam radiation therapy is considered by many to be safer and just as effective, if not more so, than traditional radiation therapy for adults with advanced cancer.

That finding comes from a study that used existing patient data to compare the two types of radiation. Traditional radiation delivers x-rays, or beams of photons, to the tumor and beyond it, which can damage nearby healthy tissues causing significant side effects.

Experts say by contrast, proton therapy delivers a beam of proton particles that stops at the tumor, so it’s less likely to damage nearby healthy tissues.

House Bill 2799 was approved this week in committee and now moves to the House floor for consideration.