For Immediate Release:
February 21, 2008
Sen. Andrew Rice
Rice’s “Steffanie’s Law”
Moves to Full Senate
The Oklahoma Senate will soon consider legislation preventing private
insurance companies from penalizing critically ill patients who
enter clinical trials after a Senate Committee cleared the bill
Known as “Steffanie’s Law”, Senate Bill 1521
by State Senator Andrew
Rice (D-OKC), passed the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee
by a 5-2 vote with State Senator Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) joining
all four Democrats on the committee in support.
“This is an important step toward relieving Oklahoma families
of the risk of losing their health insurance coverage by participating
in clinical trials,” Rice said.
Rice’s bill seeks to require private insurance companies
to continue covering routine health care costs after a patient resorts
to clinical trials, sometimes as a last hope for a cure.
“Families in Oklahoma should not have to decide between
potential life-saving treatments and personal financial ruin,”
Rice said. “There is little evidence that routine health care
costs for clinical trial patients are any higher than costs for
patients who are not enrolled in trials.”
Rice noted that patients who qualify for government Medicare or
Medicaid insurance do not face the same dilemma because both programs
recognize and encourage clinical trials when doctors recommend them.
“Insurance industry claims that this mandate will raise
premiums in Oklahoma are bogus,” Rice said. “Clinical
trials that are frequently paid for by drug companies and treatment
facilities can actually reduce critical health care costs down the
road when they prove successful.”
Rice’s bill is named after an area teenager, Steffanie Collings,
who has been fighting brain cancer since she was 14. Her parents
did not hesitate when they were told she might be helped by clinical
trial treatments. However, their insurance company stopped paying
Steffanie’s medical bills and the family is now strapped with
more than $400,000 in debt.
Earlier this week, Rice was critical of House Republican leaders
who forced passage of a bill that would make it harder for the legislature
to consider mandated insurance coverage legislation like “Steffanie’s
Law”. He called the House bill a “sellout” to
a special interest which wants no interference from Oklahoma elected
representatives who are acting in the interests of their constituents.
“Most mandates, like requirements for coverage of mammograms
and diabetes screening, actually save overall health care costs,”
Rice said. “However, without legislative intervention in Oklahoma,
those preventive measures would still not be covered by private
Nancy Thomason, Founder and President of Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation,
said, today’s passage is a real victory for the citizens of
“We hope to keep the bipartisan momentum and get this approved
by the entire legislature,” Thomason said. “It is 100%
fabrication that mandates drive up the price of health insurance.
These powerful insurance companies are sitting on hundreds of millions
of dollars in profit. These companies use it as an excuse to increase
premiums and rob Oklahoma citizens.”
Monty Collings said his daughter’s health has declined, but
her spirit stays strong. In and out of consciousness, she smiled
at him this morning when he said he was going to the State Capitol
to do everything he could to move the bill forward and onto the
“I prayed for this on the way to the Capitol today,”
Collings said. “I think this bill will help more families
in Oklahoma than the Senators realize.
For more information contact:
Senator Rice's Office: (405) 521-5610