The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to pass legislation today that would increase access to health coverage for millions of Americans, including cancer patients and survivors, as part of its pandemic relief package.
House Stimulus Package Would Expand Access to Health Coverage, Increase Medicaid Funding and Eliminate Medicare Patients’ COVID Costs
Medical Research Funding and Aid to Nonprofits Among Other Provisions
Washington, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives will vote tonight on a package of legislative proposals aimed at addressing numerous pandemic-related health, research and economic relief needs. The bill includes provisions that would create a two-month special enrollment period for people who are uninsured to enroll in private health coverage through the federal health exchange, and provide an increase in federal Medicaid funding to support cash-strapped states meet their residents’ growing need for health coverage. It also ensures Medicare enrollees will not face any cost sharing for COVID-19 related health expenses and provides funding for the National Institutes of Health to restart essential medical research that has been interrupted during the pandemic.
Additionally, nonprofits of any size could apply for forgivable loans, with a maximum of up to $10 million, through the Paycheck Protection Program. Nonprofits represent the nation’s third largest employer with more than 12 million workers.
A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), follows:
“Urgent action is needed to help millions of Americans, including many who have a history of cancer, obtain and maintain health care coverage. Being uninsured is risky at any time but is especially frightening during a pandemic. The special enrollment period and increased Medicaid funding will help ensure more people can get the care they need when they need it.
“Eliminating COVID-19 associated cost sharing for Medicare enrollees, including for any possible vaccine, will help some of our most vulnerable citizens access and afford essential health care should they contract the virus. Even limited out-of-pocket spending can create a hardship for seniors on fixed incomes and evidence shows it can erect a barrier to received recommended care. Surviving a pandemic should not leave seniors—or anyone—saddled with insurmountable medical bills.
“The coronavirus upended and delayed critical biomedical research and countless clinical trials. The dedicated $3 billion to restart those efforts is an important initial investment, but much more funding will eventually be necessary.
"Enabling charities of any size to begin seeking economic assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program, will help nonprofits like the American Cancer Society continue to provide support and critical services to cancer patients throughout this crisis and beyond. At a time when communities are increasingly seeking assistance from nonprofits to weather the health and economic impact of the pandemic, organizations like ours are struggling to stay afloat as donations have dropped dramatically.
"On behalf of all those impacted by cancer, we call for bipartisan efforts to provide Americans the vital assistance they need to continue.”