On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss the healthcare bills Congress is currently considering and what they mean for patients. They break down the D.C. lingo and highlight three healthcare bills that will shape access to care and elevate patient voices: the BENEFIT Act, the STAT Act, and Cures 2.0.
The Benefit Act would require the FDA to use patient experience and patient data in clinical trial design and drug approvals. It would give patients and advocates a larger role in the FDA’s benefit-risk drug approval framework, empowering patients to share their experiences to influence approvals. This legislation would elevate the patient experience in the agency’s review process and encourage a greater formalization of patients’ experiences.
The STAT Act would increase and expedite rare disease therapies. It would create a rare disease committee, Rare Disease Center of Excellence, to advise the HHS Secretary and usher in actual FDA reforms to accelerate rare disease drug development. This process would inform rare disease policies and improve access to medications for rare disease patients.
Cures 2.0 is a bill that would increase medical research and patient access to breakthrough medicines, accelerate medical research, and remove barriers to telehealth. The legislation would create a new agency called Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) within the National Institutes of Health that would help develop innovative treatments for rare and chronic diseases.
The use of telehealth medicine has skyrocketed due to the pandemic, but coverage issues are still a problem. Monica Bryant, Chief Operating Officer at Triage Cancer, joins the show to answer patients’ questions about the latest in telehealth policy. She explains how telehealth is useful to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits. Unfortunately, there is a patchwork of coverage for telehealth. And just because an insurance company covers telehealth doesn’t mean it’s free. Monica recommends patients ask their insurers how their telehealth coverage works just as they would ask about their regular insurance.