BOUNTIFUL—Randy Mansfield knows what it’s like to face cancer. Now he’s committed to help get affordable cancer care in a local or community setting. As part of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), Mansfield recently went back to Washington, D.C. to meet with elected officials to discuss issues and reform to benefit those who are battling the disease.
“As patient advocates we are survivors,” he said. “We have ‘skin in the game’ so we’re not just lobbyists. They tend to listen to us.”
Mansfield was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. “It was aggressive and part of my therapy was to attend a support group,” he said. “I became associated with COA. The issues resonated with me. The group came about because there was a need to support cancer care in a community setting. They found it was much cheaper than a hospital and they believe it should be more available to people in their community.”
Several community cancer centers have closed because they can’t stay in business, he said. “People are forced to travel longer distances so costs go up for them trying to get there and having to stay. Some have been absorbed by hospitals. It’s a big problem throughout the country.”
Another concern is the 340B Program. “It’s a drug discount for cancer drugs,” said Mansfield. “The problem is the savings are not being passed on to the people who use the drugs. Hospitals are not required to disclose how they use the funds. There needs to be more transparency and accountability. Some use it to increase their profit margin.”
He also contends there are pharmacy benefit manager abuses. “They’re the middleman between the drug manufacturers and insurance carriers,” Mansfield said. “There’s a fee charged by the pharmacy and it’s very murky. The cost is passed onto the end line consumer, which is you and me. They make millions of dollars and that is not passed on to us.”
Cancer drugs are especially expensive, he said. “It can cost thousands of dollars for one shot. I knew someone whose mother-in-law couldn’t afford the treatment anymore so she decided not to continue,” said Mansfield. “Some community centers have drugs onsite but because of insurance patients can’t get them. Sometimes it takes weeks to get. I wish they’d focus on patients instead of profit.”
Mansfield was treated at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. “It gave me a good perspective being treated in a hospital,” he said. “But I know people who were treated in community centers. These are things that affect people but they don’t know about it. I want them to understand and be aware of things that could impact them.”
He hopes to see a bigger push in Utah on these issues. “You don’t need to be a cancer survivor to be an advocate,” said Mansfield. “Cancer has a ripple effect like a pebble in a lake. It involves so many people. I’m committed to do everything I can in this perilous, hideous journey.”
For more information or to get involved contact Mansfield at Randy.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.CommunityOncology.org.