Washington, D.C., March 7, 2016—The legislation released by the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees, while preserving some patient protections, will have the net effect of shifting health insurance costs to low and middle-income patients, significantly reduce the standards of what constitutes quality insurance, curtail the Medicaid expansion and over time substantially reduce over-all Medicaid funding.
A statement from Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN, follows:
“The bills released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee retain key patient protections prohibiting insurers from charging more based on health status and prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions. However, these protections are hollow if patients and survivors can’t afford insurance that covers the health care services they need to treat their cancer diagnosis.
“ACS CAN has long advocated that any changes to the health care law should provide equal or better coverage for cancer prevention, treatment and follow-up care than what is currently available. These bills have the potential to significantly alter the affordability, availability and quality of health insurance available to cancer patients and survivors. Changing the income-based subsidy to a flat tax credit, combined with reducing the standards for quality insurance could return cancer patients to a world where many are unable to afford meaningful insurance or are left to buy coverage that doesn’t meet their health needs.
“In 2015, approximately 1.5 million people with a history of cancer between 18-64 years old relied on Medicaid for their insurance. Nearly one-third of childhood cancer patients are insured through Medicaid at the time of diagnosis. The proposed repeal of Medicaid expansion along with significant federal funding changes could leave the nation’s lowest income cancer patients without access to preventive, curative and follow-up health care.
“Moreover, reduced federal funding combined with state-specific eligibility and enrollment restrictions will likely result in fewer cancer patients accessing needed health care. For low-income individuals these changes could be the difference between an early diagnosis when outcomes are better and costs are less or a late diagnosis where costs are higher and survival less likely.
“According to multiple independent analyses, 30 million individuals, including many cancer patients and survivors, now have insurance facilitated by current law. ACS CAN will continue to urge lawmakers to strengthen and improve the law in a way that reduces the national cancer burden.”
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 https://www.fightcancer.org/.