Coakley take note: State requires coverage for outdated breast cancer treatment

BHN did a double take this morning on the Globe story about the Senate candidates’ debate about mandated insurance coverage. Apparently, the state still requires insurers to cover the cost of bone marrow transplants for breast cancer, even though researchers concluded TEN years ago that the procedure doesn’t work. (WBUR had the story as well.)

In Mass and some other states, insurers are required to cover treatments for conditions like infertility and alcoholism. Repub Scott Brow has proposed a bill that would kill all the mandates since they drive up insurance costs. According to the Globe story:

Coakley’s campaign attacked the bill, saying it would allow insurance companies to get out of covering things such as mammograms, bone marrow transplants for breast cancer patients, and hospice care for seniors.

BHN thought it mighty be a Globe error. But, indeed, Coakley repeats her support for the coverage in a press release on her web site:

Today Scott Brown offered his own health care reform “solution” for rising health care costs in Massachusetts that would allow the removal of coverage for critical health services for women, children, and seniors. His plan would allow the removal of previously mandated insurance coverage for such basic care as mammograms, minimum maternity stays for new mothers, hospice care for seniors, and bone marrow transplants for breast cancers patients.

Here’s a 2000 New York Times story entitled “Cancer Study Shuns Bone Marrow Therapy.

Bone marrow transplants are ineffective when breast cancer has spread to other organs in the body, a nationwide study released today by The New England Journal of Medicine has found.

The reason Mass added bone marrow transplants for BC to the list is that — even though women were demanding it –the procedure was unproven and considered experimental. Now the results are in and have been for a while– BMT doesn’t help. But the mandated coverage remains on the books. It’s far from the only outdated statute in Mass, but Coakley might want to reconsider her continuing support for it.


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