If there was ever a time to recognize the necessity of expanding access to meaningful health coverage, it’s now.
Great Minds Thinking Alike
Yesterday was an incredible day at ACS CAN we held our first-ever National Forum on the Future of Health Care and it was a huge success! The conference focused on how to ensure that people living with cancer and other chronic diseases have access to quality health care. It's a discussion that has grown in intensity since implementation of the Affordable Care Act began, and our forum brought together some of the country's top health care experts to examine the issue. The new law requires all health plans to offer a minimum level of essential health benefits beginning in 2014. If defined well, these benefits could provide patients the security of knowing that their health plan will cover proven methods to prevent cancer and the treatments and follow-up care needed to battle the disease. In December, HHS released initial guidance to the states for defining essential health benefits, with a formal regulation expected in the future. Much of our discussion revolved around the states' role for defining essential benefits and how these benefits could improve care while containing costs. We convened leading federal and state government officials, representatives from health care industry groups, patient-focused non-profits, academics and the media. I was particularly excited to welcome HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and former HHS Secretary and former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to the conversation. You can read more about the event here, but I wanted to share with you some quotes I gathered yesterday that really highlighted the event to me.
The creation of an essential health benefits package could not be more important for people with cancer or other life-threatening chronic diseases. Never before has there been a core set of benefits that every health plan must cover. - John R. Seffrin, PhD, CEO of ACS CAN
President Obama has been talking recently about this Administration's all-of-the-above approach to energy. Right now, we're also taking an all-of-the-above approach to improving America's health." - Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services
In Massachusetts, we defined Minimum Creditable Coverage to include not only primary care, but also cancer screenings, emergency care, mental health and substance abuse programs and lifesaving medications and treatments.This is the right thing to do both to help keep people healthy and to save the system money in the long run. - Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts
We have to begin defining quality in relation to outcomes. - Michael Leavitt, former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and former governor of Utah
We are horrible at advocating for ourselves but good at advocating for each other which is why consumer protections are so important. - Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of Health Initiatives, Community Service Society of NY **Photos courtesy of Doug DeMark Photography