The U.S. House has unanimously passed our bill to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and survivors. This win was thanks to the hard work, persistence and dedication of ACS CAN volunteers who have tirelessly championed this bill.
2020 Maine Session Summary
Victory in the fight against cancer requires bold new public policies that promote cancer prevention, early detection of cancer, and expand access to quality, affordable health care. Lawmakers make many decisions that impact the lives of Mainers touched by cancer and their leadership is vital to defeating this disease. In 2020, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) worked with the Maine Legislature in support of the following priorities:
Ensuring Access to Quality Care
- Surprise Medical Billing: ACS CAN advocated in support of an update to Maine’s law on surprise medical billing. In 2017, the Maine Legislature passed a law to prohibit patients from being surprise billed for unexpected out-of-network care, but the law exempted emergency services. In 2020, ACS CAN worked with the legislature to pass legislation to ensure patients are also protected from surprise out-of-network bills for emergency services, including ambulance services. The new law also supports uninsured patients, providing them access to a dispute resolution process for bills of $750 or more in a single emergency services visit. This new law affects more than 800,000 Mainers who have private health insurance or are uninsured.
- Affordability and Accessibility of Health Care: ACS CAN advocated in support of a health reform bill that focused on health coverage affordability and transparency, which was introduced by the Administration. The bill passed with strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by the Governor. The law will create a larger insurance risk pool for those who purchase health insurance on their own or through a small employer, spreading health care costs across a larger number of individuals and providing greater cost protections for high cost claims within the pooled market. The law also requires insurers to offer a set of health insurance plans that would generally have the same deductible, out-of-pocket limit, and copays for a set of commonly used services. This will help make health insurance for individuals and small businesses easier to understand and easier to compare. The law requires that for certain health insurance policies, the first primary care and behavioral health visits each year will be covered without any out-of-pocket costs and the 2nd and 3rd visits will only require a copay. Finally, the law puts Maine on the path to establish a state-based health insurance marketplace for health coverage sold as part of the Affordable Care Act. This will give Maine more control over the marketplace, allowing for greater flexibility with special enrollment periods and in promoting coverage with the goal of ensuring more Mainers have health insurance coverage.
Reducing the Toll of Tobacco
- Reducing Youth Tobacco Use: ACS CAN advocated in support of legislation to direct the Maine Attorney General’s Office and Department of Health and Human Services to examine and report back to thelegislature on actions the state could take to reduce tobacco product marketing to youth and reduce youth tobacco use. ACS CAN also advocated in support of evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation policies, including advocating to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Unfortunately, bills to reduce tobacco use in Maine and curb the e-cigarette use epidemic were defeated this year. ACS CAN is committed to continuing to work with lawmakers to advance evidence-based policies aimed at reducing tobacco use in Maine.
Quality of Life
- Access to Palliative Care: ACS CAN supported legislation to require Maine Care coverage of palliative care. This bill would have increased access to coordinated patient-focused care to adequately manage pain and symptoms associated with a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, this bill did not pass. ACS CAN will continue to support policies that increase access to palliative care and improve the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with cancer.
Cancer Research Funding
- Research Bond Bills: ACS CAN testified in support of two bond bills that would provide funding for biomedical research and development, including funding for cancer research. The bills have been carried over to any special session of the 129th Legislature and could be taken up for a vote if the legislature reconvenes later this year.