If there was ever a time to recognize the necessity of expanding access to meaningful health coverage, it’s now.
ACS CAN Volunteer's Emotional Senate Testimony Illustrates Need for Critical Patient Protections
Stacy Cook is 36-years-old, and has battled breast cancer not once, but twice. Unfortunately, she's one of many Americans who in the course of her cancer treatment discovered that her insurance coverage was nowhere near adequate enough to pay for the care she needed. Fortunately, she's one of many Americans who should benefit from the insurance market reforms included in the Affordable Care Act. So when Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), inquired about contributing a patient story to a hearing to discuss the progress being made on implementation of insurance market reforms under the ACA, we knew Stacy's story was one the committee needed to hear. Following a mastectomy that was scheduled quickly to remove her second breast cancer tumor, Stacy discovered that the insurance she held at the time would not cover any of her procedures or the chemotherapy treatment she needed, and that her plan would only pay for five doctor visits a year. On top of the stress and other emotions caused by her cancer diagnosis, she had to worry about how she could pay for her treatment. Because of the kindness of her family and friends, she was able to pay for three of the six chemotherapy treatments that were recommended by her oncologist. But she was only able to work 28 hours a week due to the side effects from her treatments, and she was forced to move back in with her parents in Iowa to save for her remaining treatments. Today, her medical debt totals more than $40,000, and she's afraid she will have to declare bankruptcy. Despite her struggle, Stacy told the lawmakers on the HELP Committee that she now has peace-of-mind knowing that in 2014 she can no longer be denied coverage because of her pre-existing condition. Other important insurance market reforms in the ACA are already benefiting cancer patients across the country. Access to meaningful, affordable health care will not only improve health outcomes, but free cancer patients and survivors from being forced to choose between their life and their lifesavings. Stacy stands next to Senator Harkin at the HELP Committee Hearing.