WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a legislative package aimed at protecting and improving access to affordable health care and prescription drugs, including for those with serious pre-existing conditions like cancer.
Specifically, this package would stop an administration rule that extends the availability of short-term, limited duration insurance plans (STLD). These plans can deny or charge people more for coverage based on their health status, are exempt from covering essential health services, like prescription drugs or hospitalization, and can charge older people more than they charge a younger person for the same coverage. An ACS CAN report released this week, showed just how inadequate STLD plans are for cancer patients— in some cases costing up to five times as much in out-of-pocket costs as a comprehensive plan.
Another provision would restore funding for consumer outreach and enrollment in comprehensive health insurance on the exchange, which has been reduced by 90 percent since 2016. In addition, the legislation includes the bipartisan Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act of 2019 as a way to address an important barrier to developing generic and biosimilar drug therapies and improve patient access to lower cost drugs.
A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN follows:
“The bills under consideration today offer Congress the chance to preserve and strengthen access to comprehensive affordable health coverage for people with serious medical conditions, including cancer. The rule to extend the availability and encourage the use of short-term, limited duration insurance plans threatens to erode the individual insurance market—splitting the healthy from the sick and pricing those with pre-existing conditions out of the market. It also risks significantly increasing the number of Americans who would find themselves underinsured. An ACS CAN analysis showed a 12-month STLD plan could cost a breast cancer patient $40,000 in out-of-pocket costs—five times the costs of an exchange plan. STLD plans are exactly the kind of inadequate insurance products we need to get away from and we support the effort to roll back this rule.
“We also support restoring funding for outreach and enrollment efforts to get people into comprehensive health coverage on the exchange. More people enrolled in such plans means more people able to prevent, detect and appropriately treat their cancer.
“Reducing patient prescription drug costs is also a significant concern and as such ACS CAN supports the passage of the CREATES Act included in this package. CREATES has the potential to increase generic competition and provide patients access to lifesaving therapies at lower costs while also maintaining incentives for continued innovation.
“On behalf of all those affected by cancer we stand ready to work with Congress to improve our health care system and access to affordable, meaningful health care and we urge the House to pass this package as quickly as possible and send it to the Senate for swift consideration.”