New Study Highlights Need for Pennsylvania Lawmakers to Prioritize Efforts to Reduce Medical Debt & Expand Access to Care

ACS CAN survey finds affordability is the leading policy priority for cancer patients & survivors

February 19, 2024

HARRISBURG, PA – February 19, 2024 – Protecting free preventive cancer screenings and reducing the burden of medical debt are among the top issues of concern for cancer patients and survivors today, according to a new survey by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) that asked participants to select their leading policy priorities for the year.  

Over half of (51%) of survey participants noted that finding ways to help patients stay out of medical debt or reduce the negative impact of medical debt accrued was a top policy priority for them–that’s up from 33% in a similar poll in 2020. Policies to address the high costs of cancer have also grown in support among those touched by cancer, reflecting the urgency to address these policies in Pennsylvania.

“The latest survey results affirm what we already know here in Pennsylvania—that the sky-high costs of cancer treatment have made it so that some Pennsylvanians have to choose between their life and livelihood—between life-saving treatment and basic needs,” said Donna Greco, Government Relations Director for ACS CAN in Pennsylvania. “That is why we support legislative proposals that enable Pennsylvanians to access precision medicine through biomarker testing (SB 954 & HB 1754), take time off from work without risk of losing their employment and income (HB 181) and receive care without going into insurmountable medical debt (HB 78). ACS CAN is proud to support efforts to address the many intersecting needs of Pennsylvania patients and their families, including those that lessen the impact of medical debt.”

In Pennsylvania, there are several approaches being considered to reduce the toll of medical debt in residents’ lives, including a proposal in Governor Shapiro’s Executive Budget to invest $4 million to wipe out as much as $400 million in Pennsylvanians’ medical debt.

The survey data was collected between January 3 to January 22, 2024. A total of 1,542 cancer patients and survivors who were treated or diagnosed within the past seven years responded to the questionnaire. Differences reported between groups are tested for statistical significance at a 95% confidence interval. 

Read the full polling memo here.


About ACS CAN 

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone.  As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. By engaging advocates across the country to make their voices heard, ACS CAN influences legislative and regulatory solutions that will end cancer as we know it. 

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