Cancer Advocates Strongly Urge Congress and Administration to Permanently Close Medicaid Coverage Gap

Lawmakers Should Prioritize Solution in Build Back Better Package Expanding Health Care to Millions in Non-expansion States

October 20, 2021

Washington, DC – October 20, 2021 – As lawmakers deliberate which health care priorities to include in the budget reconciliation package, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is strongly urging Congress and the Administration to once and for all permanently close the Medicaid coverage gap and provide access to quality, affordable coverage to millions of Americans.

An estimated 2.2 million low-income adults in the 12 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid are now in the “coverage gap,” uninsured and unable to qualify for affordable health insurance. Included in the reconciliation legislation passed by the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees is a provision developing a new health care coverage option in states that have not expanded Medicaid.

“More than two million people – including cancer patients and survivors – are being denied access to the affordable, potentially lifesaving health care they deserve simply because of where they live,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “This is an unacceptable reality for which Congress can and must enact a permanent fix.”

Extensive and robust research shows that uninsured individuals are more likely to have cancer diagnosed at an advanced stage when survival is less likely. Medicaid expansion helps improve cancer outcomes by offering access to prevention services, timely cancer screening and early detection services. Inequitable access to affordable insurance coverage is also a key factor in the health disparities experienced by communities of color and other populations.

“Closing the Medicaid coverage gap is, at its core, a racial equity issue,” said Lacasse. “We know that more than 60 percent of those in the coverage gap are people of color, a reflection of the longstanding and pervasive disparities in health care. ACS CAN’s deep commitment to eliminating cancer disparities compels us to implore our elected officials to take action we know will meaningfully impact our goal of achieving equitable access to care for all.”

ACS CAN launched a new advertising campaign this week emphasizing the hurdles to cancer care faced by those forced into the coverage gap in the 12 non-expansion states. The ads will run in print and digital publications in the D.C. market through late October. Additional ads will also run in Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon and Washington through early November. The campaign is viewable here.

Cancer advocates nationwide have made clear their support for this effort through letters to the editor in their local newspapers and in direct messages and phone calls to their lawmakers. ACS CAN also joined with the Partnership to Protect Coverage coalition, organizations that represent millions of patients and consumers facing serious, acute and chronic health conditions, to send a letter to congressional leadership stating support for a permanent federal Medicaid fix.

While ACS CAN continues to advocate for a federal fix, our work to encourage individual states to expand continues in earnest as well. In Wyoming, a new poll released this week found that nearly two-thirds (66%) of Wyoming voters support efforts to increase access to health care by expanding Medicaid.

“ACS CAN will continue to speak out strongly and passionately about the need for a permanent solution to the Medicaid coverage gap, as well as advocate to maintain and strengthen access to coverage in states that have expanded Medicaid,” said Lacasse. “The health of millions of Americans is on the line. Our elected officials must not let this moment pass.”

More Press Releases AboutAccess to Health Care, National

Media Contacts

Alissa Crispino
VP, Advocacy Communications and Policy
Allison Miller
Director, Media Advocacy