July 16,2015

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (Wyden): 202-224-4515 
Aaron Fobes/Julia Lawless (Hatch): 202-224-4515
Giselle Barry (Markey): 202-224-2742&

Wyden, Hatch, Markey Applaud Senate Passage of Access to Clinical Trials Bill

Bill Would Maintain Ability of People Receiving Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid to Participate in Rare Disease Clinical Trials

WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Senator Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., today applauded Senate passage of the “Ensuring Access to Clinical Trials Act,” bipartisan legislation that makes it possible for people receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid to continue participating in rare disease clinical trials. The bill passed by unanimous consent.

“By removing this sunset, the Senate has affirmed its commitment to seeking cures for rare diseases and removing barriers so all have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials,” Wyden said. “Clinical trials are an essential part of finding new treatments and cures for rare diseases, and it can often be difficult to find participants. The Ensuring Access to Clinical Trials Act is an important and hopeful step in the right direction and I was proud to work with Senators Hatch and Markey on this worthy effort.”

“Clinical trials have been a cornerstone for the research community, helping to provide promising futures for patients with groundbreaking treatments and cures for disease,” said Hatch. “This is a common-sense, bipartisan initiative to help ensure that more individuals battling rare diseases can participate in these potentially life-saving programs and work towards improving their health.”

"Finding the cures of the future won't be done without clinical research and the courageous patients in clinical trials,” Markey said. “Thanks to this bipartisan legislation, now patients won't be forced to choose between their benefits and the promise of a life-saving clinical trial. The Ensuring Access to Clinical Trials Act will help more people with rare diseases participate in these critical trials, improving the chances of finding cures and better treatments. I thank Senators Wyden and Hatch for their on-going partnership on this legislation and giving support and hope to patients suffering from rare diseases."

The bill, which was authored by Wyden, Hatch, and Markey makes permanent a change instituted in 2010 that allows people receiving SSI and Medicaid benefits to take part in clinical trials without jeopardizing their eligibility for those benefits. The 2010 law included a sunset after five years so its effects could be studied and assessed.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the program last year and could not find any negative aspects from the 2010 law. That determination cleared the way for the legislation the Senate approved today. GAO’s report can be found here.

The bill now moves to the House for its consideration where Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced a companion bill in January.