ACS Regional Executive Vice President Expresses Concerns Over Proposed Medicaid Work Requirements

David Benson Shares Reservations Regarding Minnesota Bill's Effect on Cancer Patients

May 9, 2018

I am gravely concerned about a bill being considered by the Minnesota legislature that would add unnecessary challenges to the mountain cancer patients have to climb. This bill would impose a work or community engagement requirement as a condition of eligibility for Medicaid and could result in cancer patients, survivors, and others managing serious conditions being denied access to timely, appropriate and lifesaving health care and treatments.

Cancer is a deadly disease I am all too familiar with. I am the regional executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, living here in Washington County and serving 13 states in our part of the country. I am also the grandson and son-in-law of women who suffered through cancer treatment. I have countless friends, colleagues and volunteers who have done the same. In fact, 31,000 Minnesotans will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone. Because of advancements in treatment, most will survive, but the road is still hard and scary.  The treatments can be painful, and the paperwork for insurance, employers and providers only adds to the uphill battle.

Cancer patients in active treatment are often forced to cut back on hours or step away from work altogether due to their treatment and side effects. In fact, between 40-85 percent of them must take a break from their employment. Some exhaust their leave benefits and their employers fill their positions with new employees. It seems particularly cruel in such circumstances to ask those patients to start applying for jobs, do interviews, volunteer or spend precious hours documenting those tasks. Worse, if their coverage is suspended, even temporarily, as paperwork issues are sorted out, patients could miss crucial, timely treatments.

The American Cancer Society and our advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, are passionately committed to saving lives every day. We do not support work requirements for Medicaid recipients. I call on Rep. Kelly Fenton to reject this bill that would be so onerous for cancer patients, and to encourage her colleagues to do the same. Cancer patients don’t need more challenges. They need us to support them as they climb.

David Benson

Regional Executive Vice President, American Cancer Society