MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin Assembly Democrats failed in their attempt to pull an oral chemotherapy bill onto the floor for a vote Tuesday afternoon, following hours of debate.
The bill requires health insurance plans to provide the same coverage for chemotherapy drugs taken in pill form as they do for less expensive, traditional treatment through IVs.
The measure passed in the Wisconsin Senate in a 30-2 vote earlier Tuesday.
"We're going to send a very, very clear message to cancer patients and their families all over the state of Wisconsin. We heard you, we understand, and let's get this piece of legislation to the governor's desk," Democrat Senator Jon Erpenbach says.
Governor Walker has not officially released his opinion on the bill. Before it gets to his desk the state assembly will need to pass it. Many senators in favor of the bill are concerned it will be held up in the assembly.
"Every member who votes for this bill should publicly plea, demand, insist that the assembly take up the bill and adopt it because the votes are there," Democrat Senator Robert Jauch says.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robyn Vos didn't want the bill to come up in his chamber Tuesday, saying he would put it on Thursday's agenda, but possibly in an amended form.
Democrats went forward with plans to pull it to the floor anyway, but did not have the two-thirds of the vote necessary.
The bill's co-author, Republican Senator Alberta Darling, says 29 other states have either passed or are currently working on similar bills. She says insurance officials in those areas have seen a slight increase in insurance premiums. Most of the increases have been under 1%.
MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Senate voted 30-2 Tuesday afternoon to approve a bill that requires health insurance plans to provide the same coverage for chemotherapy drugs taken in pill form as they do for less expensive, traditional treatment through IVs.
Senators Leah Vukmir and Paul Farrow were the only two to vote against the bill, with one senator not voting.
It's unclear if the bill will come up in the Assembly before that chamber wraps up its business for this session.
27 News is covering actions in the Assembly today and will provide updates when they happen.
MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Senate now plans to vote Tuesday on a bill that would make more oral chemotherapy drugs more affordable for cancer patients, after the chamber's majority leader blocked the bill from coming to the floor last week.
Senate Republicans made the decision to proceed with a vote on the bill after discussing the matter in private Tuesday morning, said a spokesman for the bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Alberta Darling.
The bill would require health insurance plans to provide the same coverage for chemotherapy drugs taken in pill form as they do for less expensive, traditional treatment through IVs.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have been using procedural moves to block a vote on the bill, even though it is sponsored by Republicans and appears to have the support from of a majority of lawmakers.
Democrats, cancer patients and other advocates have been pressuring the Legislature to act this week before lawmakers wrap up their work for the year, and Governor Scott Walker may have applied even more pressure with comments he made Monday.
"My guess is, I would not be surprised if it ultimately ended up making its way through the legislature," Gov. Walker told 27 News in the exclusive interview, citing strong public support for the bill. Debate over the bill has also become an issue in the 2014 race for governor, with Walker's Democratic challenger Mary Burke saying she supports the bill and would sign it as governor.
"This should be an easy, common sense decision," Burke said in a statement. "Unfortunately, it seems like once again we see special interests taking precedence over the needs of the people of Wisconsin."
Assuming the bill passes the Senate on Tuesday, it would still have to clear the Assembly and be signed by Gov. Scott Walker before becoming law. The bill's prospects in the Assembly remain in doubt.
The Assembly's last scheduled day in session is Thursday, meaning if the bill doesn't pass by then it's dead for the year. It was not on the Assembly's tentative agenda for Thursday, but Assembly Republicans were meeting in private Tuesday to talk about the bill.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel polled all 132 state lawmakers and found that 89 of them voiced support for the bill, including a majority in both the Senate and Assembly.
Both Fitzgerald and Vos have cited concerns of some opponents that the measure is a mandate on insurance companies. Health insurers fear the measure will drive up costs.
One of the bill's most ardent opponents, Republican Sen. Paul Farrow, told 27 News Monday he was proposing an alternative that would make $3 million in grant money available to help patients pay for the more expensive chemotherapy drugs in pill form. But Delaporte says the bill will be voted on Tuesday in its original form, not with the Farrow amendment.
Twenty-nine other states have similar laws.
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