Senate bill would help cancer patients with clinical trial costs

MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) -- For cancer patients, financial struggles can often get in the way of participating in clinical trials. A bill in the state Senate could help alleviate some of that stress.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing Wednesday on Senate Bill 489, which is intended to address the economic barriers and provide those able to participate in clinical trials equal access.

Marshfield Clinic offers clinical trials at six of their cancer centers. Currently, there are around 125 clinical trials that are active just for cancer research. According to Daniel Wall, a center research administrator with the clinic’s Cancer Care and Research Center, the bill would be a step in the right direction.

“A lot of our patients, a clinical trial is their best option, and to participate in a clinical trial frequently involves a lot of travel, a lot of office visits and appointments,” said Wall. “Sometimes, the deciding factor whether they’re going to be able to participate in that clinical trial is a financial decision they make as a participant.”

Wall says this type of legislation is important to help make participation in programs possible for cancer patients.

“Anything that we can do to reduce barriers for our patients to participate in clinical trials is absolutely key,” said Wall. “Especially in a rural environment.”

The bill was authored by Senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Representative Bob Kulp (R-Stratford). According to a press release, the bill will enable increased participation in clinical trials by allowing those who participate to be reimbursed for expenses related to the trial. Those expenses may include travel and lodging during treatment.
States that have passed similar legislation include Texas and Pennsylvania.