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Cancer patients urge Congress to include critical health provisions in reconciliation package

As Congress prepares to consider the Build Back Better Act, cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers are urging lawmakers to make sure certain key health provisions are included in any final legislation. Those provisions include:

  • Closing the Medicaid coverage gap in the 12 states that have yet to expand Medicaid eligibility
  • Extending the increased subsidies for purchasing health coverage on the marketplace
  • Capping Medicare enrollees' prescription drug costs while smoothing expenses for beneficiaries
  • Creating a paid family and medical leave program for patients and caregivers
  • Increasing the tax on cigarettes and ensuring tax parity on other tobacco products including e-cigarettes

“Research has shown without question that access to comprehensive health coverage is essential to saving lives from cancer,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “For the millions of people who live in states that have not yet expanded Medicaid and for those who have been finally able to afford coverage thanks to the increased subsidies available on the exchange, these policies would mean the difference between preventing, finding, and treating cancer early—when it’s most survivable—or much later when it may be too late.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that 7.6 million people would gain health coverage under the House version of the Build Back Better Act either through Medicaid or through the ACA marketplaces, and nearly 4 million uninsured people would gain coverage. For cancer patients enrolled in Medicare, the unlimited cost sharing for prescription drugs can render their care unaffordable. Capping the costs and allowing them to space out prescription co-payments throughout the year, rather than upfront, would enable these patients to better plan their finances.

Paid family and medical leave would also alleviate the often-crushing choice between managing a loved one’s health and maintaining financial solvency.

Increasing the tax on tobacco products remains the most effective public health tool to reduce tobacco use—the number one preventable cause of cancer.

“The policies before Congress right now are among the most consequential for cancer patients in more than a decade,” said Lisa. “We need our lawmakers to keep the more than 1.9 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year and the nearly 17 million American survivors top of mind as they move ahead with this legislation. Cancer patients deserve access to care and to quality support programs to make surviving this disease as manageable as possible.”


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