Deputy Whip Ackerman joins ACS CAN to promote bill to help cancer patients


STATE HOUSE — House Deputy Majority Whip Mia Ackerman spoke at the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s 2024 Co-Pay Action Day today about the need to assist cancer patients struggling with high medical bills. She is sponsoring legislation that would let cancer patients meet their deductible faster by banning an insurance company practice called “copay accumulator adjustments.” This would help patients afford life-saving medications and treatment.

“Families battling cancer have enough to deal with, they should not also be overwhelmed by medical bills,” said Representative Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln). “This legislation will ensure that cost savings go to patients, rather than insurers and help to relieve some financial pressure so patients can focus on their recovery.”

A relatively new insurance company practice, copay accumulator adjustments allow the enrollee to use copay assistance, but does not count the amount of that support toward the enrollee’s out-of-pocket cost sharing requirements, like their deductible. Even as the insurance companies are getting paid on behalf of the patient, only the funds spent directly by the enrollee count towards that individual’s deductible, leaving patients with significant surprise costs.

The legislation (2024-H 8041) would require insurance companies to count manufacturer or other rebates towards a cancer patient’s deductible. That would help patients reach their deductible sooner which would result in lower annual costs for cancer treatment and fewer surprise costs.

According to a 2023 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 31% of Americans have not taken their medications as prescribed because of cost. That can be especially true for newer treatments, including many cancer drugs, for which there is not yet a generic equivalent.

“Representative Ackerman has long been a champion for Rhode Islanders facing cancer and other chronic illnesses,” said Ryan Strik, Rhode Island director of government relations for ACS CAN. “H8041, introduced by Representative Ackerman, puts patients first by tackling harmful copay accumulator adjustment programs which put great financial strain on patients and their families. We are proud to stand alongside Representative Ackerman, many of our friends in the General Assembly and our amazing volunteers and coalition partners today to call for the passage of H8041.”

A longtime advocate for cancer patients, Representative Ackerman received the 2023 Public Service Award from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network and Brown University’s Legoretta Cancer Center for her work combating cancer. She has championed many pieces of legislation including a 2018 bill (2018-H 7136) that prohibits minors from using tanning beds, a 2021 bill (2021-H 5432A) to cover preventative colorectal cancer screenings, and a 2022 bill (2022-H 7587A) requiring private health insurers to cover biomarker testing. She has also introduced legislation (2024-H 7301) this year to make medical research easier in Rhode Island, especially for cancer researchers.

“Out of all of our responsibilities as legislators, the one that fills my heart with pride the most is our ability to help save lives. We can only do that with strong partners like the Cancer Action Network. On behalf of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and the whole state, I thank you for your efforts,” Representative Ackerman said.



IN PHOTO: House Deputy Majority Whip Mia Ackerman.