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.

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:

These comments were submitted by ACS CAN to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding changes to the template Summary Plan Document that health insurance plans must provide to consumers.

In a letter to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), ACS CAN and other organziations provided specific comments to provide greater consumer protections and improvements to  the NAIC's Health Carrier Prescription Drug Benefit Model Act (Formulary Model Act). 

ACS CAN filed comments on the 2017 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters, including issues related to Medicare notices, standardized plan option designs, and network adequacy.

A recent American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) analysis of coverage of cancer drugs in the health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act has found that coverage transparency has improved somewhat since 2014, but significant barriers remain for cancer patients.

ACS CAN Examination of Cancer Drug Coverage and Transparency in the Health Insurance Marketplaces

In 2015, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) analyzed coverage of cancer drugs in the health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and found that transparency of coverage and cost-sharing requirements were insufficient to allow cancer patients to choose the best plan for their needs.

ACS CAN filed comments supporting the Internal Revenue Services' proposed clarification requiring plans to provide coverage for physician services and inpatient hospitalization in order to qualify as minimum value coverage. 

ACS CAN filed comments on the Medicare CY2016 Physician Fee Schedule, supporting CMS' proposals to establish a separate payment for collaborative care services and provide reimbursement for advanced care planning services.

ACS CAN provided comments on the proposed rule implementing changes to the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) and the Uniform Glossary in which we urged the Tri-Agencies to include a high-cost coverage example (specifically a breast cancer example) in the SBC, to require the inclusion of premium information on the first page of the SBC, and to eliminate the current coverage calculator and require plans to use actual plan data when providing coverage examples.

Medicare Resources:

ACS CAN provided comments on CMS' initiation of a national coverage analysis for cervical cancer screening with a combination of HPV and cytology (Pap) testing.

ACS CAN commented on the Medicare CY2015 Physician Fee Schedule, in which we urged, among other things for CMS to designate screeming colonoscopioes that resule in polyp removal or biopsy as a preventive service.  We also commented on the proposed provisions related to the Chronic Care Management code.

ACS CAN commented in the FY2015 Medicare Hospice payment rule.

ACS CAN commented in the FY2015 Medicare Hospice payment rule, in which we urged, among other things, for Medicare to develop a workable solution to better clarify when a prescription drug is covered under the Hospice or Part D benefit.

ACS CAN filed comments in response to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation's (CMMI's) request for information on specialty practitioner payment model opportunities.  ACS CAN's comments urged CMMI to pay particular attention to the impact various payment policies would have on a beneficiary's access to care.

In a letter to CMS Administrator Tavenner, ACS CAN joined other organizations urging CMS to reqire Medicare Advantage plans to provide coverage for clinical trials.

ACS CAN filed extensive comments in response to CMS' proposed rule implementing changes to the Medicare Part C and D programs, including opposing proposed changes to the Part D six protected classes.

This analysis examines two issues of particular interest to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and its members: the extent of coverage and cost-sharing for cancer drugs, and whether information on the coverage of cancer drugs can be readily obtained, compared, and understood by patients.

Approximately 160 provisions in the final health care legislation will directly impact the millions of Americans who have or will face cancer. The following is a list of the most important provisions for the cancer community:

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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