Alternative Medicaid Financing Proposals Could Jeopardize Cancer Care; Increase States’ Medicaid Costs

ACS CAN Sends Letter to Governors Detailing Medicaid Concerns

January 4, 2017

Washington, D.C., January 4, 2017—States would likely face increased costs and cancer patients and survivors could face delayed preventive, diagnostic and curative care under alternative Medicaid financing models being considered by Congress. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) today sent a letter detailing the organization’s concerns to select governors invited to attend a Medicaid meeting led by the Senate Finance Committee this month.

In the letter, ACS CAN president, Chris Hansen, writes, “Block grants and per capita caps purport to provide states greater flexibility in administering state Medicaid programs. Unfortunately, this flexibility with reduced federal funding would likely result in your state being forced to impose restrictions in eligibility, enrollment, and/or benefits and services for Medicaid enrollees.”

Unlike the current system, fixed federal payments would not adjust automatically to account for increased enrollment, unexpected health emergencies or the cost of new breakthrough treatments. Instead, such financing would shift the cost to states, which would then likely implement restrictions to make up the shortfall. These restrictions, according to the letter, include currently prohibited cost-saving measures such as, “enrollment freezes, waiting lists, withholding certain medical benefits, and increased cost-sharing for beneficiaries.”

Multiple studies have shown cost sharing deters low-income patients from seeking medical care, including life-saving preventive screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. In addition, potential enrollment freezes, waiting lists and increased out-of-pocket costs, could lead to later-stage cancer diagnoses when treatment costs are higher and survival is less likely.

“Block grants and per capita caps raise serious issues about Medicaid’s ability to offer low-income Americans quality, affordable and comprehensive health care coverage, particularly for those suffering from cancer,” said Hansen. “We want governors as well as Congress to carefully consider the effects that certain Medicaid funding changes would have on patients and survivors nationwide before any changes are made.”

For a copy of the full letter please visit:

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit




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