The true costs of cancer are heavy, they are deep, and they are ultimately unaffordable for many, a challenge further exacerbated by this year’s COVID-19 pandemic and spotlighted by the upcoming Supreme Court case challenging the Affordable Care Act.
Medicaid Covers US
The American Cancer Society and ACS CAN have long been dedicated to protecting and increasing access to health care through Medicaid. On behalf of the 2.3 million Americans with a history of cancer that rely on Medicaid coverage to manage their care, we work to ensure they and their families can access the care they need to get and stay healthy and to manage their medical conditions.
These efforts have evolved into our new public education campaign, Medicaid Covers US, which aims to drive a deeper conversation about Medicaid and health care in our country. The campaign is supported in part by the partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Cancer Society to remove barriers to cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
Over the past year, ACS CAN staff have listened to people across the country share their experiences accessing health care in their communities. We’ve heard from patients, doctors, nurses, social workers, families and neighbors in six states, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia and Louisiana. Some of these states have already expanded access to Medicaid for their residents, while others are still looking into the value of increasing access to their Medicaid program.
A common theme among those we’ve spoken with since work on this campaign began in September 2018: Medicaid holds an important role in communities, beyond just the health of an individual. Health care providers shared how Medicaid allows them to keep their doors open and support and expand prevention and detection services for serious diseases like cancer. Children with health insurance through Medicaid can get services to help them manage health issues like asthma or vision problems, allowing them to better participate and succeed in school. Access to Medicaid builds healthier communities, which in turn fuels stronger economies. In each community we visited, patients and providers told us the impact that Medicaid has had – or could have – on their health.
We were proud to share the first collection of these stories during the launch of the public education campaign last week in Overland Park, KS, with the premiere screening of the short documentary, Critical Condition: Stories of Health in Heartland. The film features Kansas community members and health professionals discussing their own experiences they strive to take care of themselves and their families in the face of serious diagnoses and without health insurance.
In addition, ACS CAN commissioned nationwide research to better understand how the general public think and feel about Medicaid. The results show that 92% of people, regardless of political affiliation, feel that Medicaid is an important program, and 72% support raising Medicaid’s income eligibility levels. Furthermore, the survey also revealed that changes to Medicaid programs are unpopular. For example, a majority of (seven in 10) voters agree that their states should not rush into imposing new reporting requirements as a condition of receiving coverage. It’s clear that the vast majority of the Americans support Medicaid and consider it a valuable program, regardless of political party.
This research, stories and video testimonials from individuals in the six states and other resources are all available on Medicaidcoversus.org.
We look forward to what’s yet to come for this educational campaign, like a digital storybook coming in June and two more mini-documentaries we’ll be filming. The focus of this campaign is and will continue to be on the people and communities we’ve met; their stories are the core of our conversation about Medicaid. Medicaid Covers US serves as a platform for an incredibly important and relevant conversation and I encourage you to stay