Based on a preliminary read of the Senate health bill released today, the proposed legislation appears to significantly weaken the ability of millions of cancer patients, survivors and those at risk for the disease to find and afford adequate, meaningful health care coverage.
A statement from Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN, follows:
“Preliminary analysis of the Senate bill released today shows the proposal could greatly harm millions of cancer patients, survivors and those at risk for the disease.
“While the Senate bill preserves the pre-existing condition protections, it allows states to waive the essential health benefits (EHBs) which could render those protections meaningless. Without guaranteed standard benefits, insurance plans would not have to offer the kind of coverage cancer patients need or could make that coverage prohibitively expensive. Plans could also once again set annual or lifetime caps on care forcing individuals to choose between their life and lifesavings.
“Lower premium tax credits, the elimination of cost-sharing subsidies in 2019, and allowing plans to charge older people more for their care, could price many low and middle-income cancer patients and survivors out of the market.
“Significant Medicaid cuts could leave millions of the country’s working poor and most vulnerable without critical preventive and curative health care. More than two million cancer patients and survivors, including one-third of all childhood cancer patients who are on the program at the point of diagnosis depend on Medicaid for their care.
“Having access to adequate, affordable health insurance is essential to our nation’s ability to continue reducing death and suffering from cancer. American Cancer Society research shows that patients with health insurance are more likely to have their cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage when the disease is less expensive to treat and their chances of survival are greater.
“Now more than ever patients need a transparent, bipartisan effort that will stabilize the insurance market, retain patient protections and reduce rather than increase premiums. We urge the Senate to return to the drawing board and work together to find ways to improve our health care system and protect cancer patients.”