New Report: States Refusing to Increase Access to Medicaid Coverage Adversely Impact the Health of Millions

Statement of Chris Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

July 2, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 2, 2014 A new report released today by the White House Council of Economic Advisors finds that millions of uninsured Americans continue to go without health coverage because several states have chosen not to increase access to Medicaid. A statement from Christopher Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, follows: States are missing a tremendous opportunity to reduce the health and economic burden of chronic diseases such as cancer. Millions of uninsured people who cannot afford lifesaving cancer screenings or treatments on their own stand to gain affordable health coverage if their state would simply accept available federal funds to improve access to Medicaid. In doing so, the White House estimates that the 24 states that have thus far refused the federal funds would give 214,000 additional women access to mammograms and 345,000 additional women access to Pap tests. The intransigence of elected officials in these states is jeopardizing the health and well-being of people whose employer does not offer health coverage, who lost their jobs in the struggling economy or who have been diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer that prevents them from working full time. These individuals and their families are often forced to put off needed care because of the cost. They often rely on emergency rooms or free or low-cost health clinics for sporadic care. For someone managing a chronic disease such as cancer, this type of patchwork medicine usually results in poor health outcomes, and the resulting uncompensated care is a huge economic drain on states and the country as a whole. American Cancer Society research shows that the uninsured are more likely than those with health coverage to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer and less likely to survive the disease. By increasing access to Medicaid coverage, states have an opportunity to ensure millions of low-income people have access to proven cancer prevention and early detection measures, such as mammograms, Pap tests, colonoscopies, and tobacco cessation, and to lifesaving cancer treatments. The debate over whether to increase access to health care through Medicaid isn 't about politics, it 's about people 's lives. States should accept available federal funds to increase access to affordable, quality health coverage for their most vulnerable people.Œæ It 's the moral thing to do. ACS CAN grassroots volunteers have been urging elected officials in every state to accept the federal funds available to improve access to Medicaid coverage and save lives. 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 For More Info, Contact: Alissa Crispino or Steven Weiss Phone: 202-661-5772 or 202-661-5711 Email: [email protected] or [email protected]rg