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President's action strengthens patient access to care

A new three-month sign-up period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) starts next month and changes to Medicaid will help the uninsured.

On Jan. 28, President Biden issued several executive orders aimed at expanding potential health coverage options for those who have lost health insurance due to the coronavirus pandemic, and rolling back current policies that harm patient access to coverage.

Included among the orders is the creation of a three-month Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for people to purchase individual health plans through the federal exchange and orders to reduce hurdles many face when trying to enroll in Medicaid or health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. It also directs agencies to examine policies that undermine the insurance marketplace and make coverage less accessible, as well as to examine ways to make coverage more affordable.

A statement from Gary Reedy, ACS and ACS CAN CEO, follows:

“Millions of Americans, including cancer patients, who have lost their jobs, had their hours reduced, or otherwise faced serious economic hardship due to the coronavirus have also lost their health care coverage; offering these patients a clear path to finding coverage through a special enrollment period will surely help ease some of their burden and ensure they can get necessary care. Additionally, directing agencies to reconsider rules and policies that make it difficult for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions—including nearly 17 million cancer survivors—to access comprehensive health care, and looking for ways to make that care more affordable, is an important step toward strengthening health protections for those who need it the most.

“For those who qualify for Medicaid, the program can be a lifeline. In recent years, many low-income individuals’ eligibility has been threatened by changes to state programs that erected barriers to accessing and maintaining coverage. Today’s order to reexamine demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid that reduce coverage or undermine the program will curtail efforts to cap eligibility, limit services, or implement burdensome reporting requirements to maintain coverage. More than two million Americans with a history of cancer rely on the Medicaid program for coverage. Protecting access to the program will reduce suffering and death from this disease.

“The health of our country and our ability to end this pandemic is dependent on individuals and their family members being able to access comprehensive health care without delay. On behalf of the millions of cancer patients, survivors, and their families, we welcome today’s action and its potential to provide comprehensive health coverage to those in need.”

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