Washington, D.C.—February 5, 2019—Cancer patients, survivors and caregivers will tune into the president’s State of the Union address tonight, watching to see if the president will commit to strengthening the nation’s health care system by preserving access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage, support life-saving medical research through increased federal research funding and improve patient quality of life with increased access to palliative care.
ACS CAN Maryland State Lead Ambassador Jacqueline Beale, a 17-year breast cancer survivor, has been invited to attend the State of the Union by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to highlight the importance of patient protections in the health care law for those with a history of cancer.
Jacqueline has been fortunate that her employer-sponsored health insurance has covered her treatment and necessary follow-up. But like millions of cancer patients and survivors she is extremely concerned that elimination of those protections could reintroduce discrimination that would make health care unaffordable or completely out of reach.
A statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) President Lisa Lacasse follows:
“Tonight the president has an opportunity to commit to improving the lives of the 16 million American cancer survivors and the nearly 1.8 million Americans who will be diagnosed with the disease this year.
“Patients like Jacqueline Beale rely on access to affordable, comprehensive health care coverage in order to diagnose, treat and survive their disease. Preserving patient protections under current law and stabilizing the health insurance markets should be a top priority. This can and should include measures that reduce patients’ out-of-pocket drug costs without jeopardizing their access to innovative new therapies.
“Developing those new therapies requires ongoing, robust federal funding for life-saving medical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI). Consistent year-over-year funding increases are essential to continuing our nation’s progress reducing cancer incidence and deaths through improved diagnostic tests, treatments and therapies.
“Finally, it is important to take into account the entire patient experience from diagnosis through survivorship. This should include expanded access to palliative care. Palliative care is a holistic approach that can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life and can be offered alongside curative treatment. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) currently before Congress would help train more professionals and educate the public about the need for and benefits of this coordinated care for the millions of Americans with serious illness.
“Health care is among the most pressing issue facing our nation and on behalf of cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones we urge the president to make fighting this disease a top national priority. ACS CAN stands ready to work with the president and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to make cancer-fighting policy and legislation at the top of their agenda.”