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:

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the 2021 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters proposed rule. ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

ACS CAN responded to the reopening of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) coverage decision for NGS testing panels.

ACS CAN is concerned that over the past year, policymakers and the administration have taken several legislative and regulatory actions that could make it harder for individuals with pre-existing conditions to obtain health insurance coverage that is adequate, affordable, and available, thereby jeopardizing access to life-sustaining care.

Where healthcare dollars are spent compared with dollars on cancer care, 2015.

ACS CAN submitted comments regarding Alabama's proposed plan year 2020 Essential Health Benefit Benchmark Revisions.

ACS CAN submitted comments regarding New Jersey's request for a 1332 waiver to create a reinsurance program.

ACS CAN is very concerned about proposed policy changes that would move coverage of cancer and supportive care drugs from Part B to Part D. Proposed policy changes could jeopardize patient access to drugs, create potential safety issues, and increase out-of-pocket costs for patients who already struggle to afford cancer treatment under the current Medicare program.

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. 

ACS CAN submitted comments regarding the CMS Innovation Center's request for information on a new direction.

Prescription Drug Affordability Resources:

ACS CAN comments to Secretary Alex Azar on Drug Rebate Proposed Rule

Many cancer patients have difficulty affording the cost of their prescription drugs, regardless of whether they are insured.  This is especially true for newer drugs that do not have a generic equivalent.  Many programs exist to help patients afford their medication.  This fact sheet focuses on two of these – patient assistance programs and discount coupons.  

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).

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are entities that administer prescription drug programs for many private, public, and employer health insurance plans. PBMs establish pharmacy networks, negotiate prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers on behalf of their clients, and provide basic claims administration.

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.

Prescription drugs are often less expensive in other countries. This is due to a variety of factors. There have been efforts at the state and federal level to allow individuals to purchase lower cost prescription drugs from other countries and import these products into the United States for personal use.

New breakthroughs in cancer research are making more life-saving drug therapies available. Keeping these therapies affordable for patients is imperative. Prohibitive cost sharing for prescription drugs can cause patients to skip dosages, split pills or stop taking their medications entirely, which reduces the effectiveness of their treatment.

Currently, Medicare part D is administered entirely by private plans that follow guidelines set by CMS. Policymakers propose allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to enter negotiations between pharmaceutical manufacturers and Part D plans in an attempt to lower prescription drug prices.

Most health insurance plans that cover prescription drugs use formularies to categorize the drugs the plan will cover and determine the amount of patient cost sharing. Divided into “tiers”, the higher the tier, the higher the share of cost for patients.

Private Health Insurance Resources:

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the 2021 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters proposed rule. ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

ACS CAN applauds the intent of the proposed rule, which is to provide consumers with information regarding their expected out-of-pocket health care costs for items and services before they receive care.

ACS CAN Comments on Rhode Island 1332 Reinsurance Waiver Proposal

ACS CAN Comments on Montana 1332 Reinsurance Waiver Proposal

ACS CAN Comments on Delaware's 1332 Reinsurance Waiver Proposal

 

ACS CAN Comments on Colorado 1332 Reinsurance Waiver Proposal

ACS CAN Comments on North Dakota 1332 Reinsurance Waiver Proposal

Medicare Resources:

ACS CAN Comments to Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Letter in support of Medicare coverage for CAR-T therapies.  

ACS CAN submitted comments on the Medicare Part C and D Rule.

Approximately 1.7 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2018. Age is one of the most important risk factors for cancer, with one half of cancer cases occurring in people over the age of 65.

Advance Notice of Methodological Changes for Calendar Year (CY) 2019 for Medicare Advantage (MA) Capitation Rates.

On January 16, 2018, ACS CAN filed comments in response to CMS’ proposed rule implementing changes to the Medicare Part C and Part D programs. ACS CAN commented on a number of proposed policies.

ACS CAN submitted comments regarding the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Survey called Innovation Center New Direction. The comments addressed: advanced alternative payment models, consumer-directed care & market-based innovations, physician specialty models, prescription drug models, and Medicare Advantage models.

ACS CAN submitted comments supporting CMS' propsoal related to CMS' laboratory date of service policy.

Health Equity Resources:

In response to a request from FDA, ACS CAN has provided recommendations for areas of focus for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE).  Recommendations include assessing the applicability of drug "snapshot" data, evaluating the appropriateness of aggregating racial groups for ana

Despite the fact that US cancer death rates have decreased by 26 percent from 1991 to 2015, not all Americans have benefited equally from the advances in prevention, early detection, and treatments that have helped achieve these lower rates.

On November 10, 2015, ACS CAN hosted the first National Summit on Health Equity in St. Louis, Missouri. The summit brought together over 150 innovative thinkers in public policy, business, technology, academia, patient care, community health, and patient advocacy to examine public policy solutions for assuring greater health equity for cancer patients in the evolving health care system.

Costs and Barriers to Care Resources:

"Surprise billing” is when an insured patient is unknowingly treated by an out-of-network provider and is then billed the difference between what the provider charged, and what the insurer paid. Surprise bills can be significantly higher than the consumer’s standard in-network cost-sharing. 

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.

 

This report explores the experiences of cancer patients with their health insurance and financial challenges through interviews with hospital-based financial navigators. The report finds that while the Affordable Care Act has brought crucial improvements to patient access to health insurance, cancer patients still face serious challenges affording their care and using their insurance benefits.

As Congress debates enacting changes to the health care market, one concept re-emerging is state high-risk pools to provide health insurance coverage for individuals who otherwise cannot obtain or afford coverage. High risk pools are not a new concept. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) many states operated some form of high risk pool. During implementation of the ACA, a federal high risk pool was established as an interim step to the new marketplaces. The overall success of high risk pools varied. This fact sheet examines how state risk pools work and the impact on persons with cancer and cancer survivors.

Current federal requirements prohibit health insurance plans from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions like cancer.  These are one of several important patient protections that must be part of any health care system that works for cancer patients.

Current federal law has several provisions that help prevent individuals and families from experiencing gaps in their health insurance coverage.  Coverage gaps can delay necessary care, which is particularly detrimental to cancer patients and survivors.  Preventing gaps in coverage is a crucial patient protection that must be maintained in our health care and insurance system.

Current federal law provides life-saving coverage of cancer prevention and early detection services and programs.  These provisions are crucial to reducing the incidence and impact of cancer in the United States.  They are also crucial in helping cancer survivors remain cancer-free and lead healthy lives.

The Medicare program covers 55.3 million people, including 46.3 million who qualify due to age and 9 million people who qualify on the basis of a disability.  Medicare beneficiaries - including many cancer patients and survivors - have access to an outpatient prescription drug benefit that provides them with prescription drugs needed to treat their disease or condition.  This benefit – and keeping it affordable – are crucial to any health care system that works for cancer patients and survivors.

The health care law has several provisions that help prevent individuals from experiencing gaps in health insurance coverage, including the requirement that private health insurance plans allow dependents to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26.  This provision is important for keeping survivors of childhood and young adult cancer insured, and helps to ensure young adults receive preventive services and screenings.  This provision is a crucial patient protection that must be a part of a health care system that works for cancer patients and survivors.

Medicaid Resources:

ACS CAN comments on Georgia's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN comments on Nebraska's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

An increasing number of states are seeking greater flexibility in administering their Medicaid programs. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) give states the opportunity to test innovative or alternative approaches to providing health care coverage to their Medicaid populations through Section 1115 Research and Demonstration Waivers (otherwise known as "1115 waivers"). States must demonstrate that their waivers promote the objectives of the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) and CMS must use general criteria to determine whether the objectives of the Medicaid/CHIP programs are met.

 

Medicaid is the primary health insurance program for low-income Americans, offering quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care coverage to millions of people including those with cancer, those who will be diagnosed with cancer, and cancer survivors. Having health insurance through Medicaid helps Americans stay healthy, go to work, care for their families and pay their bills. The Medicaid program also helps communities, hospitals, schools, and economy thrive.

ACS CAN comments on Tennessee's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN comments on Utah's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN Comments on Idaho's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN Comments on Montana's 1115 Demonstration Waiver.

ACS CAN Comments on Utah's 1115 Demonstration Waiver