Dean Abbott – Radio Communications Manager
Office of Illinois House Republicans

State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) has spent the past two years working on legislation to make it easier for cancer patients to receive proton therapy as part of their treatment.
While proton therapy is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, insurers often restrict or refuse coverage. Hammond has been seeking to ensure that coverage is provided to all insureds.

Proton beam radiation therapy is considered by many to be safer and just as effective, if not more so, than traditional radiation therapy for adults with advanced cancer. That finding comes from a study that used existing patient data to compare the two types of radiation. Traditional radiation delivers x-rays, or beams of photons, to the tumor and beyond it. This can damage nearby healthy tissues and can cause significant side effects. By contrast, proton therapy delivers a beam of proton particles that stops at the tumor, so it’s less likely to damage nearby healthy tissues.

Under Hammond’s legislation (HB2799) which was approved this week in house committee, the treatment of cancer shall not apply a higher standard of clinical evidence for the coverage of proton beam therapy than the insurer applies for the coverage of any other form of radiation therapy treatment.

The measure now moves to the House floor for consideration.