**Updated 9:30 p.m. March 19
Gov. Scott Walker went on record Wednesday saying he would sign a bill into law that requires insurance companies to cover oral chemo drugs the same way that IV chemo treatments are covered.
“I’d sign the bill the Senate passed so I’m hopeful that’s the bill that will pass the Assembly,” Walker said during a visit to Appleton, according to the Appleton Post-Crescent. “If it passes the same way it passed the Senate I would sign it into law.”
The state Senate Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would require insurance companies to cover oral chemotherapy drugs the same way they cover IV chemo treatments with a 30-2 vote.
Only Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Rep. Leah Vukimir, R-Wauwatosa, voted against the measure, a story at jsonline.com reads.
In short, when administered through an IV in a hospital or clinic, chemotherapy treatment is covered under medical plans and any applicable deductibles. But, when chemo is delivered through oral medication, coverage switches to prescription drug plans and high co-pays.
The vote comes just a few days after Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald used a procedural maneuver to keep the bill from a vote on the Senate floor despite widespread support in both houses of the Legislature from both sides of the aisle.
Still, whether Assembly members get to vote on the bill remains up in the air.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, told the newspaper that the bill will be discussed Thursday, the next day the Assembly is in session, but he also said the Republican caucus could make significant changes to the bill.
Any changes would essentially kill the bill because Thursday is the last day the Assembly is in session this year, and the only way a bill gets the governor’s desk is by having an identical version approved in both houses.
State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, admitted in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he is taking some “unusual steps” to block the bill because the Republican caucus opposes it. The newspaper, though, said a review it conducted revealed that a majority of conservative lawmakers – 13 of 18 senators – support the measure.
Some have questioned whether or not Fitzgerald’s decision was being fueled by his brother Jeff’s position as a lobbyist for insurance companies that oppose the bill. Fitzgerald has denied the insinuation and Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach has sided with him on that as well even as Erpenbach disagrees with Fitzgerald’s decision to kill the bill, the story reads.
There are at least 18 Republicans in the Assembly who support the bill, the newspaper noted, and all 39 Democrats are also expected to give the bill a “yes” vote if it makes it out of committee before the legislative session ends Thursday.
Republican leaders who are among the 50-plus co-sponsors of the bill include Assembly Majority Leader Pat Strachota, Senate President Mike Ellis and Sen. Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance.
Neighboring states like Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa – along with 26 other states – have passed similar laws, and Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, is wondering why Wisconsin doesn’t as well.
“The result of that bill passing would be chemotherapy would be cheaper for many families and people would have healthier lives,” he is quoted as saying. “He and his (Republican) caucus owe families an explanation for why that is.”
Should the state Legislature pass a bill that requires insurance companies to cover IV and oral drug chemotherapy treatments?