Washington, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives will soon consider legislation to increase access to health coverage for millions of Americans, including cancer patients and survivors, as part of its pandemic relief package.
House Committees are currently considering and will soon advance legislation to increase the generosity of subsidies to cover the costs of marketplace health plans—including offering subsides to those who are receiving unemployment benefits—offer financial support to cover the bulk of premium costs for laid off workers who choose to keep their employer-sponsored health care plans, and boost the federal reimbursement for states to expand their Medicaid programs.
Also included are provisions to provide economic assistance to some nonprofits, many of which are struggling to provide essential services during this time.
A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:
“Ensuring people have access to comprehensive health care is critical as the nation continues to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people, including cancer patients and survivors, have unfortunately lost their jobs, their health care and their means to adequately prevent, detect and treat their disease. Helping cover the premium costs of health insurance—whether through increased subsidies on the exchange or by helping pay for continuing employer coverage through COBRA—will provide much-needed assistance to families and individuals struggling to maintain and afford their health care.
“However, for a growing number of people in the coverage gap, increasing access to Medicaid is the only way to effectively ensure access to comprehensive health coverage. While 38 states and the District of Columbia have already taken this step, too many individuals remain without adequate insurance options in the 12 states that have not expanded. Without health coverage, individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage and more likely to die from the disease. By including policies to incentivize states to increase access to their Medicaid programs, this legislation will help ensure more individuals are able to get lifesaving care, help address health disparities across the country and save lives.
“Additionally, extending economic relief to nonprofits hit hard by the pandemic—many of which provide critical health related services—will help bridge the gap many Americans are facing when it comes to managing their health and their finances.
“Recovering from this pandemic will require ensuring as many people as possible can get and maintain affordable health care. The committee action today is an important step to that end, and we look forward to working with Congress to improve access to care during this time and beyond.”