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Access to Health Care

ACS CAN advocates for policies that provide access to treatments and services people with cancer need for their care - including those who may be newly diagnosed, in active treatment and cancer survivors.

Access to Health Care Resources:

Having affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage is a key determinant for surviving cancer.

Our latest survey finds that about half of cancer patients and survivors (49%) have incurred medical debt to pay for their cancer care and another 13% expect to incur medical debt as they begin or continue their treatment. Nearly all of those (98%) had health care coverage at the time they accumulated medical debt. This survey also explores the broad health and financial implications of medical debt, how medical debt deepens inequites, and the alarming rate of cancer related medical debt among younger respondents with early diagnoses.

A critical factor for eliminating disparities and ensuring health equity is the guarantee that all people have access to quality, affordable health care.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) believes everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer. No one should be disadvantaged in their fight against cancer because of income, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, or where they live. From preventive screening and early detection, through diagnosis and treatment, and into survivorship, there are several factors that influence cancer disparities among different populations across the cancer continuum.

In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which created an outpatient prescription drug benefit in the Medicare program. Known as Part D, the prescription benefit is operated exclusively through private insurance plans that contract with Medicare. To ensure that beneficiaries have coverage for the drugs they need Part D plans are required to cover at least two drugs in each therapeutic class. A therapeutic class is a group of medications that are used to treat the same condition. 

Our latest Survivor Views survey sees increases in biomarker testing since the question was last asked three years ago along with reduced cost and coverage barriers in that time. Cancer patients and survivors describe the benefits and overwhelmingly agree biomarker testing gave their providers information that improved their treatment. 

The nation’s drug shortage crisis continues to affect cancer patients and survivors with 1 in every 10 (10%) reporting impacts to care, a majority of whom have had difficulties finding substitute medications (68%) and cited treatment delays (45%).

ACS CAN and partner organizations provided comments on the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program: Considerations for Selected Oncology Drugs.

Prescription Drug Affordability Resources:

Patient Assistance Programs

Prescription drug costs are a significant burden on cancer patients and survivors, sometimes even leading patients to miss or delay taking prescribed medications. The latest Survivor Views survey explores the role copay assistance programs can play in reducing this burden, and also addresses patient navigation and digital therapeutics.

A majority of cancer patients and survivors struggle to afford cancer care and over 80% have had to make financial sacrifices to cover their health care expenses. This survey also reveals ways that affordability concerns can negatively impact care and treatment, and explores issues related to prescription drug coverage and pain management options.

Many cancer patients take multiple drugs as part of their treatment – often for many months or years. While drugs are not the only costly part of cancer treatment, finding ways to reduce these costs for patients and payers will significantly reduce the overall cost burden of cancer.

This Survivor Views survey examined access to and affordability of cancer care. Survivors report insurance-related barriers to obtaining prescriptions, and lower-income respondents in particular have difficulty affording them.  24% of respondents have received a surprise medical bill, 60% of which were more than $500.

Biological drugs, commonly referred to as biologics, are a class of drugs that are produced using a living system, such as a microorganism, plant cell, or animal cell. Like all drugs, biologics are regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For an individual with specific health care needs – like cancer patients and survivors – the drugs covered by a health plan and corresponding cost sharing for each drug is important information when choosing health insurance. However, to make an informed choice, formulary information must be disclosed to the individual.

Private Health Insurance Resources:

More than 2 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and more than 18 million Americans living today have a history of cancer. Having comprehensive and affordable health insurance coverage is a key determinant for surviving cancer.

More than 1.9 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and more than 18 million Americans living today have a history of cancer.[1] For these individuals finding the right doctor is one of the most important factors in t

On Thursday, March 30, 2023, Judge O’Connor released a final opinion on remedies in Braidwood Management vs.

Cancer patients and survivors must balance reducing their health care costs with ensuring they have comprehensive coverage of services, treatments, and care providers.

ACS CAN submitted comments regarding marketplace insurance plans and requirements for plan year 2023. 

High deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) are becoming more common in employer-sponsored insurance and the individual and small group markets.  These types of plans have risks and features must be implemented carefully so they do not harm cancer patients, survivors or those at risk for cancer.

ACS CAN submitted comments on September 16, 2020, to CMS regarding Georgia's 1332 waiver application.

Medicare Resources:

On Monday, April 29th, ACS CAN submitted comments in response to CMS' Medicare Prescription Payment Plan model notices. 

 

This ACS CAN chartbook provides cancer-specific data related to Medicare, including basic information about the program, a discussion of its components, characteristics of enrollees, coverage of services – specifically those related to prevention and screening – program expenditures and enrollees

ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) along with partners appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Patient Navigation provisions of CY2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

As Congress debated the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) we strongly advocated for both an annual cap on total Part D out-of-pocket costs and a mechanism that would allow an enrollee the option to pay the required cost-sharing in capped monthly installments.

Costs and Barriers to Care Resources:

Medical debt impacts many people with cancer, their caregivers and their families. This factsheet details this impact and explores policy solutions to prevent medical debt and minimize its impact on health, quality of life and financial health.

Our latest survey finds that about half of cancer patients and survivors (49%) have incurred medical debt to pay for their cancer care and another 13% expect to incur medical debt as they begin or continue their treatment. Nearly all of those (98%) had health care coverage at the time they accumulated medical debt. This survey also explores the broad health and financial implications of medical debt, how medical debt deepens inequites, and the alarming rate of cancer related medical debt among younger respondents with early diagnoses.

Our latest survey finds that protecting no-cost screenings and preventive care and reducing the burden of medical debt are the most impotant priorities for cancer patients and survivors. This survey also explores the impacts of cancer on food and nutrition insecurity, with impacts felt across income groups and coverage levels.

ACS CAN teamed up with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and RIP Medical Debt to conduct a national survey on the impacts of medical debt and high health care costs. Read a summary of the results.

ACS CAN partnered with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and RIP Medical Debt to conduct a national survey on the impacts of medical debt and high health care costs. Read the full results.

Many patients with complex diseases like cancer find it difficult to afford their treatments – even when they have health insurance.  Current law establishes a limit on what most private insurance plans can require enrollees to pay in out-of-pocket costs.  These limits protect patients from extremely high costs and are essential to any health care system that works for cancer patients and survivors.

 

A majority of cancer patients and survivors struggle to afford cancer care and over 80% have had to make financial sacrifices to cover their health care expenses. This survey also reveals ways that affordability concerns can negatively impact care and treatment, and explores issues related to prescription drug coverage and pain management options.

In these comments, ACS CAN strongly supports Congress’ and the Administration’s efforts to protect patients from surprise medical bills and we are encouraged by the important steps this interim final rule takes. Specifically, we applaud the Departments’ proposed policies related to:

Medicaid Resources:

ACS CAN submitted comments supporting the Rhode Island Medicaid program providing coverage to justice-involved populations and housing and nutritional supports to enrollees. 

ACS CAN submitted comments supporting Colorado's request to amend it's 1115 Medicaid waiver to establish continuous eligibility for children up to age 3, and other policies.

ACS CAN submitted comments to CMS in support of Pennsylvania's application for an 1115 Medicaid waiver to provide continuous eligibility to children, provide targeted coverage to justice-involved populations, and provide housing and nutrition supports to Medicaid enrollees.

ACS CAN submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services supporting Hawaii's proposal to provide continuous eligibility for Medicaid to children through age 6, and 2-year eligibility ages 6-19. We also supported their proposal to provide pre-release services to justice-involved individuals.

ACS CAN submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in support of Minnesota's request to provide continuous eligibility for Medicaid to children up to age 6, and 12-month continous eligibility to 19- and 20-year-olds.

ACS CAN submitted comments in July 2023 to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expressing grave concerns about Arkansas' request to create work or engagement requirements in Medicaid. 

Annual Medicaid Renewals are back. During the pandemic, Congress changed the rules to allow for continuous coverage protections for Medicaid enrollees. This helped people keep their health coverage without needing to re-enroll during a tough and uncertain time in our country.