Cancer

Medicare will now cover a costly cell therapy for cancer patients

A lab tech handles a CliniMACS Prodigy automated device used for cell processing
A lab tech handles a CliniMACS Prodigy automated device used for cell processing. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has been hailed as a major advance in clinical cancer care. Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced yesterday that Medicare will cover the innovative but expensive cancer treatment CAR-T, providing "consistent and predictable patient access nationwide," CMS administrator Seema Verma said.

By the numbers: The treatment, which is customized for each individual patient, costs $375,000 or $475,000, depending on the type of cancer, the Washington Post notes. The overall cost can rise by hundreds of thousands of dollars when hospital stays are factored in.

Top 10 U.S. emitters of cancer-causing gas are in Louisiana and Texas

The Holy Rosary Cemetery next to Dow Chemical (formally Union Carbide Complex) in Taft Louisiana
The Holy Rosary Cemetery next to Dow Chemical in Taft, Louisiana. Photo: Julie Dermansky/Corbis via Getty Images

The top 10 emitters of cancer-causing ethylene oxide gas are all located in Louisiana and Texas, according to Bloomberg Environment analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency's air toxic emissions data this week.

Why it matters: More than 100 petrochemical plants and refineries occupy a stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that was formerly referred to as the "Petrochemical Corridor," but is now known as "Cancer Alley," per CBC News. At its heart is the town of Reserve, Louisiana, where residents have been diagnosed with cancer at "highly unusual" rates, according to a report by the University Network for Human Rights.