What Does Right-to-Try Law Mean for Hospice Care?


Amid the scramble in Congress to get stuff done before the two-week Easter recess—you know, little things like figuring out how to fund the government and prevent it from shutting down—lawmakers came close to passing what’s known as a national “right-to-try” law.

The House and Senate each passed different versions on a bill that would allow patients to seek unapproved medicines without being subject to safety oversight from the Food and Drug Administration. Thirty-nine states have passed such laws already.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who’s been leading the national law effort with libertarian think tanks like the Goldwater Institute, said it’s a chance for patients who have no other hope left to take the risk of pursuing an experimental treatment. But opponents, including a group of bioethicists at New York University, have countered that it’s actually a move to undermine the FDA—which already approves more than 99 percent of its expanded access requests—at the risk of endangering patients.

Anyway, my colleagues Alex Ruoff, Bronwyn Mixter, myself and a few others have done a bunch of stories on this, and I started to wonder if/how the right-to-try movement intersects with hospice care. The House version of the bill narrows the definition of eligible patients to those who have six months or less to live, which is one of Medicare’s criteria for meeting hospice eligibility.

Check out what everyone had to say here.

Our graphics team put together a neat set up map on which states have written health-care insurance provisions into their right-to-try laws, which you can check out here:Animated GIF

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