New bill could prevent unnecessary delays for cancer patients across Louisiana

Many bills are grabbing attention in the Louisiana State Capitol, including a law that could be a game-changer for cancer patients across our state.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 12:03 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Many bills are grabbing attention in the Louisiana State Capitol, including a law that could be a game-changer for cancer patients across our state.

It has to do with cutting red tape and preventing unnecessary delays in treatment.

“The week I got my diagnosis, they sprang into action as quickly as they could,” said Cheryl Michelet, a Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Patient.

Michelet was diagnosed in June of 2020 with stage three breast cancer that spread to her lymph nodes.

“The next week, I had an MRI, PET scan,” said Michelet. “That same week, I had chemo. Had they not been able to get that scan ordered in time, there would have been a delay in my treatment.”

She was told that could have made a huge difference, and that is why she is advocating on behalf of Senate Bill 112. It aims to help more cancer patients that have Cheryl’s experience by getting their treatments approved faster.

It will reduce the amount of the prior authorization requirements.

“It literally saved my life,” said Michelet. “The fact that a doctor could order a scan, get me in as quickly as she needed me to get there, and we found the results. There was no waiting.”

“Part of the problem with prior authorizations is that they take time, and people that are diagnosed with cancer, they want answers quickly, and we want to get them answers quickly,” said Dr. Daniel LaVie, a Hematologist, and Oncologist with the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

Typically, cancer treatments are expensive, and patients have to rely on insurance approvals before a doctor takes the next steps. They must order scans and other imaging before the actual treatment starts.

“The main term here is barrier, and I think that a lot of times, these prior authorizations are barriers to care,” said Dr. Scott Daugherty, Baton Rouge General Colon, and Rectal Surgeon. “Hours are taking up trying to get these authorizations rather than actually handling patient care. If we can streamline and fastrack these processes, then we can focus more on patients.”

Doctor LaVie said when patients have a delay in their care, it makes it harder for the doctor and patient.

“We’re not asking for scans that are out of the context of what’s considered routine,” said LaVie. “We’re asking for routine scans, sometimes some exceptions based on patient circumstances. We’ve been tested all our lives as doctors, and we think that passing that test of 80% should be good enough for us to push forward with this legislation.”

If the legislation is approved, patients will no longer have unnecessary delays in cancer treatment.

Health experts adding this law would be a game-changer for cancer patients across Louisiana.

“Any of those stressors that you can remove, anyway that you can give a patient a positive attitude, I think that helps fight the disease, and it makes the treatment worth it because the person lives,” said Michelet.

As of last week, the bill was sent to the Insurance Committee.

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