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New ACS CAN structure to promote better integration and geographic alignment with the New ACS

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) has announced a new structure that will foster better integration and better geographic alignment with the new American Cancer Society. This adjustment will help ACS CAN work more effectively and efficiently in support of public policies that help advance ACS' lifesaving mission.

The new structure, which will take effect on July 1, will consist of three ACS CAN regions transitioning from the current four. Each of the new regions will correspond to a combination of two ACS regions. The ACS CAN Western Region will correspond to the ACS West and North Regions, the ACS CAN Central Region will correspond to the ACS North Central and South Regions and the ACS CAN Eastern Region will correspond to the ACS Northeast and Southeast Regions.

The new model, which was developed after an extensive review of ACS CAN's current regional model and in consultation with ACS CAN colleagues across the country, will provide a more balanced and efficient staffing structure. Ultimately, it will build upon ACS CAN's impressive record of success and position the organization for even more advocacy wins that will help bring the enterprise closer to achieving its ultimate goal of saving more lives from cancer.

"ACS CAN's close integration with ACS has always been critical to its success," said, ACS CAN President Chris Hansen. "Streamlining ACS CAN from the current four regions to a three-region structure will maintain a strong collaborative partnership with ACS, while efficiently and effectively supporting local, state and federal advocacy objectives."

Ruth Parriott will serve as leader for the ACS CAN Western Region and will be based out of St. Paul, MN. Ruth joined ACS' National Government Relations Department in 1995 and has been instrumental in advocacy wins ranging from passage of comprehensive smoke-free legislation to implementation of the National Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program. Robert Morris will serve as regional lead for the Central Region and will be based out of Gulfport, MS. Over Robert's 18-year tenure with the organization, he's held numerous positions within ACS including cancer control manager, regional vice president and division cancer control vice president for the former Mid-South Division. Paul Hull will serve as regional lead for the Eastern Region and will be based out of Jacksonville, FL. Paul joined ACS in 2002 and has more than 25 years of experience in the legislative, government relations and public policy arena. ACS CAN regional leadership will serve as liaisons to corresponding ACS Regional Leadership Teams to ensure seamless integration and real-time communication about advocacy activity in relevant areas within the regions.

Questions about the new ACS CAN structure should be directed to Marissa Brown, senior vice president, State and Local Advocacy.


  • Chris Hansen's Monthly Advocacy Update

    ACCESS TO CARE

    Senate Wrestles with Health Care Legislation

    Leadership in the U.S. Senate is currently indicating they are looking to vote on a health care bill before the July 4 recess. Unlike the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate must wait for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score the legislation they want to bring to the floor to ensure that it complies with complex budget reconciliation targets. Proposed reductions to Medicaid funding remain a major sticking point, especially among the states that opted to expand access to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

    Assuming a repeal bill passes the Senate by June 30, Republicans would have one month before the August recess to merge the House and Senate bills, which are expected to have major differences.

    ACS CAN is urging the Senate to preserve critical patient protections in the current law, including prohibiting medical underwriting, banning annual and lifetime caps on coverage, and guaranteeing access to essential health benefits regardless of where you live.

    Health coverage must be affordable both in premium and in total out-of-pocket costs. Income-based premium tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, and the Medicaid expansion work together to maximize the number of people who can obtain health coverage. A flat credit along with Medicaid cuts would significantly affect the ability of millions of patients to afford and access health insurance. It is the combination of these proposed changes to the current law that resulted in the CBO to conclude that the House passed bill would reduce the number of insured by an estimated 23 million people.

    Another important stakeholder in this debate are the nation's governors. Prior to scheduled calls between a select group of governors and Senate leadership this week, ACS CAN sent a letter to governors of both parties across the country detailing our concerns about proposals that would result in dramatically reducing Medicaid funding; reintroducing discrimination based on health history; waiving minimum essential benefits requirements; eliminating steady funding streams that subsidize affordable health coverage; and instituting continuous coverage requirements that could discriminate against those who cannot work due to illness or who have to take leave to care for a loved one.

    Activities in the states 

    • In response to ACS CAN's team of determined and persuasive volunteers in Mississippi, the state's entire congressional delegation has signed on to the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act. This legislation would eliminate surprise costs to seniors on Medicare who have a polyp removed during a routine colonoscopy. In addition to the full congressional delegation signing on as co-sponsors, Sen. Roger Wicker was the first Republican co-sponsor to sign on to the original bill when it was first introduced in the Senate. He did so at the request of his constituents on the ACS CAN Mississippi team.
    • Effective July 1, Nebraska's colorectal cancer screening program will provide funding for outreach and follow-up. ACS CAN advocates for initiatives aimed at increasing colorectal cancer screening rates.
    • On May 26, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law bills to expand the Nevada Cancer Drug Donation Program. The revised program will include all prescription drugs – except controlled substances – and authorize the substitution of biosimilars.
    • On May 23, Texas governor Greg Abbott, signed into law a bill that provides patient protections related to step therapy protocols for prescription medications. Step therapy practices begin medication for a medical condition with the most cost-effective drug therapy and progresses to costlier therapies only if necessary. The new law becomes effective September 1.

    CANCER RESEARCH, PREVENTION, AND EARLY DETECTION

    White House Budget Proposal Threatens Cancer Funding

    The White House submitted a detailed Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget proposal to Congress last month that would cut funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by nearly $7.2 billion (21 percent). This amount includes a proposed $1.2 billion (21 percent) cut to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and an $18 million (5 percent) reduction of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cancer control programs. Additionally, the Office of Smoking and Health would be eliminated under a proposed consolidation of CDC chronic disease programs. Congress is now holding budget oversight hearings and we expect to see a FY18 budget begin to work its way through Congress later this month.

    ACS CAN continues to actively advocate for strong Congressional support for cancer research and prevention funding on various fronts. In addition to our direct lobbying, ACS CAN leads the One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) coalition that held grassroots lobby days on June 5 and 6. ACS CAN is also mobilizing grassroots advocates to meet with their representatives when lawmakers return home for upcoming Congressional district work periods. Our broad traditional and social media strategy continues to both thank Congress for support for the recent increase in research funding and to call on members of Congress to prioritize NIH and NCI funding in FY18.

    Through our participation in United for Medical Research (UMR), ACS CAN is working to make the case that NIH funding is good for economic growth. UMR recently released a new report that estimates that FY16 NIH funding supported 380,000 jobs and $65 billion in economic activity across the country. The report also estimates the potential job losses under the proposed cut in the president's budget. 

    ACS CAN Supports Bill to Accelerate Childhood Cancer Drug Development

    On May 1 and 2, the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, of which the American Cancer Society and ACS CAN are members, held its sixth annual Action Day. During their meetings on Capitol Hill, more than 200 childhood cancer patients, survivors, and family members urged their members of Congress to cosponsor two bills to increase funding for childhood cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI).

    The Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act is bipartisan legislation that ACS CAN endorsed in late March. The bill seeks to modify the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA), a law that was intended to increase the number of drugs available to treat pediatric illnesses. While PREA has been successful in driving pediatric drug development in other diseases, exemptions in the law have prevented it from ever applying to cancer drug development. The modifications proposed by the RACE for Children Act would ensure that the provisions of PREA apply to cancer drugs. 

    A separate bill, the Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act (STAR) would increase transparency of and expertise on pediatric cancer research at NIH, and explore the long-term side effects of childhood cancer and its treatments.

    Activities in the states 

    • The Arizona legislature approved a level funding appropriation of $1.37 million for the Arizona Well Woman HealthCheck Program to provide mammograms and Pap tests to uninsured women.
    • Final appropriations in Colorado included cancer, cardiovascular, and pulmonary disease grant funding of more than $19.8 million; tobacco education, prevention and cessation grant funding of more than $23.5 million; and breast and cervical cancer screening program funding via the Women's Wellness Connection of more than $4.6 million.
    • Minnesota governor Mark Dayton approved several appropriation measures for both new funding and continued funding for programs hard won in past sessions. They include: 
      • $35 million of continued full funding for the State Health Improvement Program, which provides grants to communities for tobacco and obesity prevention efforts;
      • $2 million in continued funding for Safe Routes to Schools;
      • $8 million in new funding for a University of Minnesota program to expand access to clinical trials; and
      • $250,000 in new funding for Good Food Access Fund to improve access to healthy food in underserved communities.

    Final appropriations in North Dakota included nearly $520,000 for colorectal cancer screening and $400,000 for the Women's Way breast and cervical cancer program.

    TOBACCO CONTROL

    House Bill Intends to Make Veterans Health Administration Smoke-Free

    On May 17, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee advanced legislation that would make Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities smoke-free. The bill (H.R. 1662) would prohibit the use of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and other combustible tobacco products inside any VHA facility soon after it becomes law, and would prohibit smoking outside VHA facilities by 2022. ACS CAN along with 43 additional public health and medical groups signed a letter of support for the bill. The bill now awaits a vote on the House floor. 

    State & Local Advances

    • On June 1, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a $1.50 per pack cigarette price increase. This is a major public health victory which demonstrates that significant price increases on tobacco are possible regardless of a state's ruling party.

    Smoke-Free

    • More than 510,000 Americans will be protected by new or revised smoke-free ordinances in the following cities:
      • Laguna Beach and Windsor, California
      • Sandpoint, Idaho
      • Santa Fe, New Mexico
      • Arlington and Palmhurst, Texas 

    Tobacco-21

    • Los Gatos, California enacted a tobacco retail license ordinance that restricts the sale of all flavored tobacco—including menthol cigarettes—to adult-only retailers. The ordinance also prohibits tobacco sales to persons under the age of 21; bans sales in pharmacies; and blocks new retailers from locating within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, and playgrounds, or within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer.
    • On May 15, Excelsior Springs, Missouri passed a Tobacco-21 ordinance which went into effect immediately. 

    QUALITY OF LIFE

    State Activity

    • In accordance with legislation ACS CAN supported in 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget reversed a decision by the California Department of Managed Health Care that would have delayed implementation of adult palliative care services in Medi-Cal.
    • ACS CAN teams led efforts in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Nevada to pass measures to promote palliative care access. All four were signed into law in May and will improve quality of life for patients and families facing cancer and other serious illnesses. 

    GLOBAL HEALTH

    Global Health Agenda Prioritizes Cancer Control

    On May 30, at the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization, health leaders from across the globe reaffirmed cancer control as a critical health and development priority by adopting "Cancer prevention and control in the context of an integrated approach," a new cancer resolution.This was the first time a cancer-specific agenda item had been discussed at the WHA since 2005. The resolution, co-sponsored by the U.S., is the culmination of more than a year's work by the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC), the American Cancer Society, ACS CAN and other supporters. It provides countries with updated and integrated guidance on health promotion and risk factor reduction, with emphasis on the tobacco control and anti-cancer vaccines. The Society and ACS CAN are continuing efforts to transform that commitment into increased resources and action to address cancer. Beyond the resolution, momentum continued to build around cancer and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Among the record 26 cancer-related events were discussions on cervical cancer, tobacco control, nutrition and obesity, adolescent health, financing for NCDs, health systems and universal health coverage.

    SPECIAL UPDATE

    ACS CAN Releases 2016 Advocacy Accomplishments Report

    The 2016 Advocacy Accomplishments report, "Advocates in Action: Impacting the Cancer Burden," is now available online at  acscan.org/accomplishments. This annual report highlights ACS CAN's legislative, policy, grassroots, regulatory, global health advocacy, media advocacy and judicial advocacy achievements. 




  • ACS CAN urges governors to voice concerns about impact of AHCA on state cancer burden

    Proposed changes to the health care law in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) could reverse progress in the cancer fight and shift the economic burden for health care coverage to the states.

    Ahead of scheduled calls between a select group of governors and Senate leadership this week, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) sent a letter to state leaders detailing the organization's concerns about proposals to dramatically reduce Medicaid funding that would threaten safety nets for the nation's most vulnerable; allow medical underwriting that could reintroduce discrimination based on health history; waive minimum essential benefits requirements that guarantee coverage for cancer prevention and treatment; eliminate steady funding streams that subsidize affordable health coverage; and institute continuous coverage requirements that could discriminate against those who cannot work due to illness or who have to take leave to care for a loved one.

    In the letter, ACS CAN President Chris Hansen writes, "As passed by the House, AHCA could leave cancer patients and survivors - young, old and across all income ranges – unable to access or keep quality health insurance. The bill would create a state-by-state coverage patchwork in which individuals with pre-existing conditions could be charged more for their coverage in some states, with the strong likelihood that they would be priced out of the insurance market."

    While the proposed changes to the health care law purport to provide states greater flexibility, in reality reducing coverage requirements will lead to sicker, uninsurable residents and strain state budgets as governors are forced to pick up the tab.

    The letter goes on to note, "Recognizing that there are ways to make the current system more affordable and equitable for more Americans, ACS CAN has urged Senators to undertake a more deliberative consideration of health reform.  We believe it is possible to strengthen Medicaid and the individual market, and provide access to affordable coverage for all Americans, including those with serious and costly diseases like cancer."

    ACS CAN continues to urge lawmakers to find solutions that will ensure coverage is equal or better to what is available today. However, with the CBO projecting 23 million fewer Americans would be covered if the AHCA is enacted, including 14 million losing Medicaid coverage, the current approach is seriously flawed.

    The letter to governors concludes, "We place tremendous value on your leadership and commitment to providing your residents with access to quality, affordable and comprehensive health care coverage. Ensuring that cancer patients and survivors in your state have access to uninterrupted and meaningful health care coverage is critical in the effort to eliminate death and suffering from cancer."

    Read the full letter here.  


  • New York City budget deal includes significant funding for physical education initiatives

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council have reached a budget agreement for FY2018 that puts an emphasis on improving accss to physical education for students, a priority of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), and one for which it advocated.

    The deal includes $385 million in capital funding over four years, much of which will go to gym repairs and construction in New York City's public schools, and $1.8 million in the annual expense budget to ensure universal physical education in New York City by 2021. 

    "ACS CAN applauds Mayor Bill de Blasio for continuing to aggressively address the important public health issue of physical education in schools," said Michael Davoli, director, New York Metro Government Relations for ACS CAN. "By equalizing access to appropriate physical education, our city can take another important step forward in the battle against health inequities and efforts to reduce suffering and death from cancer."

    The funding commitment for physical education (PE) comes one year after Mayor de Blasio dedicated $100 million over four years to hire 500 full-time physical education teachers for New York City schools lacking a PE teacher. Not only will it ensure that all New York City physical education teachers have the physical education facilities they need in their schools, but it will also ensure that all New York City schools are complying with state PE requirements by September 2021. 

    Quality physical education, offered consistently to New York City's 1.1 million school kids students, can have a tremendous impact on their health and well-being. Unfortunately, based upon numerous studies, for more than a decade most city schools have not offered quality physical education to students. Despite state laws that outline standards for instructional time and frequency, appropriate space, and the use of credentialed personnel, schools continue to struggle with compliance. 

    TOP PHOTO: Mayor de Blasio is pictured here talking to school children.

  • Oklahoma cigarette price increase will reduce cancer burden in state

    On May 31, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill into law that will increase the price of cigarettes by $1.50 per pack. In addition to funding state health initiatives, full implementation of this increase can generate significant revenue for Oklahoma.

    A statement from Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN, follows:

    "The $1.50 increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes in Oklahoma will help to discourage tobacco use and save lives from cancer and other serious tobacco-related diseases in the state. Research shows that regular and significant tobacco price increases are one of the most effective ways to encourage tobacco users to quit and protect young people from becoming addicted.

    "The cigarette price increase in Oklahoma makes a strong statement that reducing the use of this deadly product should be a priority across the country. If appropriately implemented and enforced, the extra $1.50 cost per pack will save an estimated 16,700 lives in Oklahoma and keep more than 28,000 kids from becoming addicted adult smokers. The increase is also expected to prompt more than 30,000 adult smokers in the state to quit, all while saving Oklahoma an estimated $1.22 billion in long-term health care costs.

    "In addition to funding state health initiatives, this increase has the potential to generate significant revenue for the state. Cigarettes cost Oklahoma more than $1.62 billion in direct medical costs and $2.1 billion in lost productivity every year.

    "Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death nationwide, and is expected to claim the lives of more than 480,000 Americans this year alone. Considering that one-third of all cancer deaths can be attributed to tobacco use, reducing its consumption is absolutely critical in the fight against cancer.

    "Gov. Fallin made the right decision for the health of Oklahomans when she signed this cigarette price increase into law. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) urges lawmakers in states still considering a significant increase in the price of tobacco products to follow Oklahoma's lead to improve both health of their residents, as well as their state budgets." 


  • Congressional Budget Office: 14M Americans will lose health coverage in 2018 under House-passed health care bill

    On May24, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued its updated assessment of the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) – estimating the number of Americans who would likely lose health insurance as compared to current law, as well as the possible cost changes for those who maintain coverage.

    The CBO projects that under the House-approved legislation, the number of uninsured will increase by 14 million next year, 19 million in 2020 and, 23 million by 2026.  Low- and moderate-income seniors between the ages of 50-65 will experience significant premium increases due to changes in age rating.  Millions of lower income Americans will be stripped of their Medicaid coverage.  

    A May 24 statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) President Chris Hansen follows:

    “Today’s updated CBO analysis confirms the American Health Care Act is a step back for millions of Americans who would likely lose their health care coverage if this legislation were to become law in its current form.

    “Cancer patients, survivors and those at risk for the disease, many of whom are older Americans, would be unable to access necessary health care including cancer screenings, treatments and follow-up care under this bill.  Underwriting for pre-existing health conditions, expanded age rating and the option for states to waive essential health benefits all threaten to return patients to a system where they would be unable to get health coverage and what coverage they might find could have annual and lifetime limits and still be prohibitively expensive.

    “In a recent response letter to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee American Cancer Society and ACS CAN CEO Gary Reedy, expressed the aforementioned concerns and urged thoughtful action in considering any changes to current law.

    “Specifically, ACS CAN is urging the Senate to preserve critical patient protections in current law, including prohibiting medical underwriting, banning annual and lifetime caps on coverage, and guaranteeing access to essential health benefits regardless of where you live.  

    “In addition, health coverage needs to be affordable both in premium and in total out-of-pocket costs. The income-based premium tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, and the Medicaid expansion work together to maximize the number of people who can obtain health coverage. A flat credit along with Medicaid cuts would significantly affect the ability of millions of patients to afford and access health insurance.

    “While the current law needs improvement, its greatest achievement has been enabling most patients with pre-existing conditions, including cancer patients and 15 million cancer survivors, to buy insurance that covers their necessary care. The Senate should build on that base.

    “ACS CAN stands ready to work with the Senate to develop policies that encourage a strong health insurance market that provides affordable and comprehensive coverage options for those with serious illnesses like cancer.”

    The U.S. House repeal bill was approved on May 4 by a vote of 217 to 213, with no support from Democrats. How it will fare in the U.S. Senate is hard to predict. 


  • ACS CAN: Proposed NIH budget cuts would devastate medical innovation and cripple critical cancer research and prevention efforts

    Today, May 23, the president introduced his proposed 2018 budget, which includes deep cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Medicaid. If approved by Congress, the cuts would decrease the NIH budget by 21 percent, decrease the NCI budget by 25 percent, cut the CDC's chronic disease program by nearly 20 percent, and reduce Medicaid funding by more than $600 billion. 

    A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

    "Cutting the NIH budget by $7.1 billion would seriously jeopardize the development of new, potentially life-saving cancer diagnostic tools, prevention methods and treatments. It would also risk eroding the basic scientific research that, when combined with private investment, spurs American medical innovation and economic development. Most specifically, the cuts would completely undermine the increases for research secured in the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act meant to accelerate progress against diseases like cancer.

    "According to a poll released Monday, an overwhelming 90 percent of voters believe federal funding for medical research is 'very' or 'extremely' important and 75 percent want Congress to significantly increase NIH funding. More than two-thirds oppose the cuts as proposed in the president's previously released 'skinny' budget.

    "Cancer research is on the verge of significant new breakthroughs that could help save lives from a disease that continues to kill more than 1,650 Americans each day. Just last week, the American Cancer Society released a reportshowing one in every five adult cancer diagnoses and two of every three childhood cancer diagnoses are considered rare. These patients and their families depend on the promise and progress of continued research investment to develop new therapies that will help to get and keep their specific diagnoses in check.  

    "In addition, cutting the CDC chronic disease budget by nearly 20 percent threatens to substantially weaken vital tobacco prevention and cessation programs as well as important efforts to address nutrition, physical activity and obesity—all significant cancer risk factors.

    "The results of these cuts combined with the more than $600 billion reduction for Medicaid funding, could leave millions of Americans without access  to meaningful health care and prevention services.

    "To date, the federal government has played a critical role in our ability to reduce the cancer burden. Such drastic budget reductions would have the potential to devastate the nation's standing as the global leader in cutting-edge medical research and scientific discovery, hamper progress in detecting cancer early when it's least expensive to treat and most survivable and severely restrict low-income patients' access to critical safety-net health care coverage through Medicaid.

    "On behalf of all those affected by cancer, ACS CAN urges lawmakers to preserve their bipartisan commitment to research and prevention and reject these cuts when crafting the FY 2018 budget."




  • Know a millennial who would like to attend ACS CAN's Leadership Summit and Lobby Day in D.C.?

    ​The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is excited to announce a unique opportunity to engage more millennials in ACS CAN's work. 

    It is currently accepting applications for 2017 Gen2End Ambassadors to attend the 2017 Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. This opportunity will give six people (one from each ACS Region), who are not already invited as part of the ACS CAN volunteer structure, a chance to attend ACS CAN's annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day September 10-13, 2017, in Washington D.C. This event includes training opportunities for ACS CAN staff and volunteers, awards ceremonies to honor them, a day on Capitol Hill lobbying lawmakers, and an evening honoring those touched by cancer at ACS CAN's Lights of HOPE ceremony. 

    Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 35 and may not have been selected as a Gen2End Ambassador last year. In addition to covering their own travel, lodging, and meal expenses for Leadership Summit and Lobby Day, selected participants will commit to be an active ACS CAN volunteer for one year after the event.

    Click here for more details and the application.

    TIMELINE

    May 22, 2017                     

    • 2017 Gen2End opportunity announced     

    June 22, 2017                   

    • Applications due at 5:00 p.m. ET

    July 2017                                             

    • Applications reviewed

    • Six applicants (one from each American Cancer Society Region) selected

    • Selected applicants will register for Leadership Summit and Lobby Day

    Action requested:  Please share the application link with anyone who meets the criteria and may be interested in this opportunity.

    For more information, please contact Rachael Eerdmans at Rachael.Eerdmans@cancer.org.




  • House passed health bill risks pricing cancer patients, survivors out of insurance market

    On May 4, by a vote of 217-213, the U.S. House approved a bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act. It now goes to the Senate, where changes to the bill are expected, meaning it would need to clear the House again.​

    The House-passed bill could leave cancer patients, survivors and those at risk for the disease unable to access or keep quality health insurance. The bill would create a coverage patchwork whereby patients with pre-existing conditions could be charged more for their coverage while simultaneously weakening the rules for what health services will be covered.

    “There is no denying that current law needs improvement, however focusing on lower premiums for healthy people at the expense of the millions of Americans with pre-existing health conditions, including more than 16 million cancer survivors, is wrong, said Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN. "“We call on the Senate to reject this legislation and stand ready to work with all lawmakers to develop policies that improve the law and encourage a strong health insurance market that provides affordable and comprehensive coverage options for those with serious diseases like cancer.”​

    Chris predicts that "the coming debate in the Senate will be a different and a more open process. We will continue to work closely with members of the Senate and our partners to craft legislation that that helps improve the law and guarantees uninterrupted and meaningful health insurance coverage for cancer patients."

    Here is additional reaction from ACS CAN:​

    “Allowing patients to be charged more for coverage based on their health status risks making pre-existing condition protections virtually meaningless. A return to medical underwriting, combined with seriously weakened standards for what constitutes good coverage through the erosion of Essential Health Benefits, sets up a situation whereby payers can cherry-pick their customers and leave patients with serious conditions like cancer with few if any affordable insurance options.

    “High-risk pools have not historically been an adequate safety-net. These programs have been unsustainable and underfunded. High-risk pool enrollees were often charged unaffordable premiums—usually 150-200% higher than the average standard rate—and faced potentially long waiting periods and strict coverage limitations; circumstances that are unacceptable for cancer patients and survivors who need immediate treatment and consistent follow-up care.

    “Additionally, it is unclear how weakening the essential health benefits standards will affect cancer patients’ access to new therapies and key patient protections like the cap on out-of-pocket costs and the prohibition of lifetime and annual limits, both of which are applied only to essential health benefits. This bill could seriously weaken these key protections, jeopardize access to new therapies and leave cancer patients—both in the individual and employer-based market—vulnerable to higher out-of-pocket costs."

    ACS CAN had opposed the bill and urged House members to vote "no" on behalf of the cancer community  Provisions contained in the original bill that led the Congressional Budget Office to conclude that 14 million people would lose coverage next year, including elimination of the Medicaid expansion, remain as key detrimental provisions of the bill. ​

    "Our volunteers and staff have done yeoman’s work over the past three months communicating with their lawmakers and staying informed and visible in this fight. I want to extend a huge thank you to them for responding to the call and giving it their all," Chris said.

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