Nashville, Tennessee (April 26,2019) — Governor Bill Lee signed bill SB 195/HB 184, also known as the “Proton Therapy Access Act” which requires the state health insurance plan to extend coverage for proton radiation therapy as an approved cancer treatment option. The bill received overwhelming approval in the House of Representatives with a 94-0 vote. The measure previously passed The Senate with a 27-1 vote.
Don Denton, President of Tennessee Cancer Patient Coalition and a prostate cancer survivor said, “This bill allows members of the Tennessee State health plan greater access to one of the world’s most advanced cancer treatment options. It’s the mission of our organization to gain insurance coverage for everyone, and today we took a step in that direction. Tennessee’s cancer patients can thank House sponsor Rep. Robin Smith (R, Hixson) and Senate sponsor Sen. Becky Massey (R, Knoxville), along with several co-sponsors. Additionally, we appreciate the leadership of our state legislature for their support of providing access to proton therapy, currently accessible in three locations in Tennessee.”
Carl Koella III, President, Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville said, “We have been serving the state of Tennessee since January 2014, and today we celebrate the passage of this bill as a victory for members of the state insurance plan across the state who can now have expanded coverage for proton therapy.” Dr. Aashish Shah, President of Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville, the newest proton center in Tennessee treating cancer patients in Franklin, said, “Members of the state plan will now have access to proton therapy for cancer treatment which can reduce damage to nearby tissue and organs thus providing fewer side effects and a better quality of life both during and after treatment.”
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that is noninvasive and uses a single beam of high-energy protons to kill cancer cells. Both standard x-ray radiation and proton radiation damage cancer cells, but unlike standard radiation therapy, proton therapy deposits the majority of the radiation dose directly into the tumor. This spares nearby healthy tissues and organs from receiving radiation, thus improving outcomes by reducing damaging side effects and complications, compared to conventional radiation.
About Tennessee Cancer Patient Coalition
Tennessee Cancer Patient Coalition, led by President, Don Denton, author and prostate cancer survivor, was formed in 2015, and serves as an advocate for cancer patients and their caregivers in the State of Tennessee. Tennessee Cancer Patient Coalition collaborates with former cancer patients to educate government officials and support legislation that can positively impact treatment, research, coverage and outcomes for cancer patients.
Don Denton, President
Tennessee Cancer Patient Coalition