CBS19: Bill aims to expand access to antibodies treatment for COVID-19

CBS19

A bill before the U.S. House of Representatives aims to expand access to COVID-19 treatments.

According to a release, the Protecting Patient Access to Lifesaving COVID-19 Drugs Act would require private health insurance plans to cover the administration costs of monoclonal antibodies without cost-sharing.

Representatives Abigail Spanberger and Anthony Gonzalez introduced the legislation on Tuesday.

“I’ve heard directly from Central Virginians concerned about the potential for high financial costs associated with COVID-19 antibody therapies, which are very expensive and require specialized professionals to administer them. To protect consumers on private plans from these high costs, our legislation makes clear that private plans must cover antibody therapies and infusions with no cost-sharing, just as they would cover COVID-19 testing,” said Spanberger. “As millions of Americans are treated for COVID-19, and millions more are vaccinated against contracting the virus, our first priority must be to make sure no American is forced to decline necessary health care measures, simply because they fear potential costs. Our recovery as a nation will be stronger when all Americans are able to protect themselves and their families.”

Monoclonal antibodies were authorized for use to treat COVID-19 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November. They have been proved to prevent COVID-19 infections and reduce hospitalizations related to the virus.

“Monoclonal antibodies are the only COVID-19 therapy that have consistently proven they can save lives and reduce the strain on our hospitals,” Gonzalez said. “When seeking access to these lifesaving drugs, the last thing a patient should worry about is how they will pay for them. By guaranteeing coverage and eliminating cost-sharing, my bill ensures monoclonal antibodies are affordable and accessible to every American who needs them.”

The release says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services bought doses of this treatment from two different companies, but while the drugs will be distributed at no cost to patients, providers can charge an administration fee for the intravenous infusion of the treatment.

This service can cost more than $1,000.

However, this bill would prevent patients from facing out-of-pocket costs like this, and insurers would be required to reimburse providers an amount that equals the negotiated rate or the cash price posted on the provider’s site if there is no negotiated rate with a given provider.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

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