Senator Andrew Rice
Senate District 46
For Immediate Release: January 16, 2009
Sen. Andrew Rice
Sen. Rice Will Re-Introduce "Steffanie's
Bill to Cover Oklahoma Families Participating in Clinical Trials
State Senator Andrew
Rice (D-OKC) announced today that he and other members of
the Senate Democratic caucus, in their continued effort to hold
insurance companies accountable, will re-introduce "Steffanie's
Law," in hopes the Republican controlled Legislature will
give the idea a second look in a non-election year.
Steffanie's Law, if passed by the legislature and signed by the
governor would require health insurance providers in the State
of Oklahoma to cover routine care costs for patients participating
in a clinical trial. The same legislation was refused a hearing
in the Republican controlled House of Representatives last session.
"Families in Oklahoma should not have to decide between potential
life-saving treatments and personal financial ruin," Rice
said. "With our worsening economy here in Oklahoma, it is
more important now than ever that we enact laws that will ensure
economic fairness for our families."
Rice said "Steffanie's Law," or Senate Bill 263, is
the same as last year's bill, and would relieve Oklahoma families
of the risk of losing their health insurance coverage by participating
in clinical trials. He said often times, clinical trials are the
best available treatment for these family's illnesses. Currently,
some insurance companies deny coverage of routine health care
costs once a patient joins a clinical trial.
"I am confident we can get this bill to the Governor's desk,"
Rice said. "We had 31 bi-partisan votes in the Senate last
year only to see the bill die because a Republican House committee
chairman who works for the Insurance industry refused to hear
Rice said almost half the states in the country have passed legislation
or instituted special agreements requiring health plans to pay
the cost of routine medical care that patients receive as a participant
in a clinical trial and he believes Oklahoma should follow their
lead. He explained routine patient care costs are the usual costs
of medical care, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, clinical
laboratory tests, x-rays, etc.,
that you would receive whether or not you were participating in
a clinical trial.
Nancy Thomason, Founder and President of Oklahoma Brain Tumor
Foundation, said the decision of pursuing clinical trial treatment
should be made by the physician, the patient and family members,
not insurance companies. She said even if you have health insurance,
your coverage may not include some or all of the patient care
costs associated with a clinical trial because some health plans
define clinical trials as "experimental" or "investigational"
"Oklahoma is blessed with state-of-the-art health care facilities
where new clinical trials, most often paid for by sponsoring groups
such as the National Cancer Institute, are creating hope for patients
with life-threatening diseases," Rice said. "It's not
right that the only obstacle to possible life-saving treatment
is an insurance company which has ruled that participating in
clinical trials disqualifies you from their health care coverage
that you pay for every month."
The Oklahoma City Democrat also said research has shown lack of
such coverage is a significant barrier to many patients who might
otherwise enroll in a trial. Lack of coverage also makes it harder
for researchers to successfully conduct trials that could improve
prevention and treatment options. The taxpayer supported University
of Oklahoma Cancer Center is one such research institution that
is negatively impacted by this phenomenon.
Rice said Senate Bill 263 is named in the memory of Steffanie
Collings. She was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 14.
Her insurance carrier refused coverage since she underwent clinical
trials to treat her brain tumor. Steffanie died from her illness
in March of 2008 as last year's legislation was making its way
through the Oklahoma Senate.
Monty Collings, Steffanie's father, said her routine patient care
costs reached hundreds of thousands of dollars and that her insurance
carrier has denied most of the claims. He said his family has
faced considerable financial hardship even though they have health
"This legislation will not help my family, but it will help
others that could end up in our situation," Collings said.
"I watched my daughter struggle with her cancer and even
though it put my family in financial peril, I would make the same
decision again when doctors tell me that clinical trials could
be her only chance at survival."