Affordable Care Act Resources

Affordable Care Act - #ProtectOurCare

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancer survivors were at the mercy of the health care system, often forced to pay exorbitant premiums or simply denied coverage altogether. Today, America’s 16 million cancer survivors benefit from the ACA’s patient protections that are critical to providing them with quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage. NCCS is actively engaged in advocating to ensure this unprecedented access continues.

On this page we provide regular updates on this ongoing debate, what it means for cancer survivors, and how survivors and advocates can make their voices heard.

Current Status 11/8:  Tax Cuts Should Not Come at the Expense of Cancer Patients

Last week, the House revealed its tax bill containing several provisions that would hurt patients. The proposed tax bill would eliminate the medical expense deduction, which is particularly harmful for cancer patients and survivors who face significant medical costs such as expensive treatments, prescription drugs and insurance premiums. 8.8 million Americans rely on this deduction to help ease the financial impact of very high out-of-pocket health costs.

In addition to eliminating the medical expense deduction, an effort is underway to repeal the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in order to help pay for this tax cut legislation. Such further action to undermine the ACA is irresponsible, as the “savings” created by repealing the individual mandate would be a result of millions of individuals losing health coverage, causing serious market destabilization and higher premiums.

Call your Members of Congress today at (844) 257-6227 and tell them oppose the elimination of the medical tax deduction AND ensure the individual mandate remains in place so that cancer patients on the exchanges don’t lose their coverage or face exorbitant premiums.


How Can I Get Involved?

Contact/Meet Your Members of Congress
Whether you attend a town hall event in your district, set up an in-person meeting with the district office, or call your Member, every effort is vital in saving our care. Did you know it takes on average only SEVEN phone calls for Members of Congress to flag an issue?

Take Action

How to get involvedCall Your Representatives

NCCS has set up a toll-free number so you can easily call and be directly connected to the offices of your Members of Congress. Call your Representatives at (844) 257-6227 and urge them to oppose repeal of the medical expense deduction and the individual mandate.  We must work on constructive solutions that improve our health care system for all Americans.

Meet Your Members of Congress In Person

Meet with your Members of Congress to ask them to do the right thing by honoring the CSR payments and working in a bipartisan fashion to stabilize the ACA marketplace.
Find a town hall meeting near you »

Check out our printable PDF tip sheet to help you prepare for calls, meetings, and town hall events. The sheet also contains sample questions to ask your Members of Congress.

NCCS Is Here to Help

We are happy to assist you in these advocacy efforts to support cancer patients and survivors. If you are interested in scheduling a meeting either in your local Congressional office or in Washington DC, please email our Public Policy Manager, Lindsay Houff, at lhouff@canceradvocacy.org.

Another important way you can make your voice heard is through op-eds in local newspapers. NCCS would love to help you draft an op-ed and provide instructions on getting the article published.

Social Media

Engage with Members of Congress on their social media platforms. Comment on their Facebook pages, or tweet directly at them (use the hashtag #ProtectOurCare). They and their staff DO pay attention to these things.

C-Span’s List of Congressional Twitter Handles »


Do you have questions or need assistance? We can help you set up meetings with your Members of Congress.
Please contact Lindsay Houff, Manager of Policy at lhouff@canceradvocacy.org.


ACA Status Updates

AHCA

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancer survivors were at the mercy of the health care system, often forced to pay exorbitant premiums or simply denied coverage altogether. Today, America’s 16 million cancer survivors benefit from the ACA’s patient protections that are critical to providing them with quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage. NCCS is actively engaged in advocating to ensure this unprecedented access for cancer patients and providers continues.
The tax bill has officially turned into a health care bill.

Last week, we learned the House version of the tax bill would eliminate the medical expense deduction. This deduction is a lifeline for cancer patients who claim it, as cancer care and the enormous out-of-pocket costs associated with it often result in financial toxicity and financial distress. As the LA Times reports, “What’s cruelest about the effort to repeal the medical expense deduction is that it directly targets some of the most vulnerable Americans. They’re people who already are shouldering catastrophic medical expenses, with only the deduction standing between them and poverty.” While the House wanted the deduction gone, the Senate version of the tax bill keeps this critical deduction. If the bills pass, the two chambers will negotiate during conference and in the meantime, NCCS is actively working to ensure the medical expense deduction is not eliminated.

But the tax bill gets worse for cancer patients and survivors. The Senate Finance Committee included the repeal of the individual mandate this week. Throughout the year, NCCS has stressed the importance of the mandate as it is the lynchpin for patient protections. An insurance system without patient protections would be devastating for cancer patients who rely on access to quality and affordable health care. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that if the individual mandate is repealed, 13 million Americans would be left without health coverage and premiums would rise by 10%. But Congressional Republicans are looking for ways to offset tax cuts and taking health care away from 13 million people would save more than $300 billion.

“The individual mandate is a central tenet of Obamacare that health policy experts and proponents say is essential to making the law work. It compels young and healthy people to join health insurance markets and help lower premiums by offsetting the costs of sicker patients,” reports Business Insider. NCCS is also concerned that passage of tax legislation that increases deficits by $1.5 trillion would trigger sequestration. This means that cuts of $25 billion in 2018 to Medicare would be automatic and would hurt cancer patients who rely on Medicare.

Tax reform should not come at the expense of those living with cancer. NCCS joined 29 organizations in a campaign to oppose the repeal of the individual mandate and protect cancer patients’ access to quality and affordable health care. This legislation is moving quickly, so Congress needs to hear from you NOW.

The House voted Thursday afternoon to pass its bill, and the Senate is scheduled to vote soon after Thanksgiving break. Call your Senators today using our hotline at (844) 257-6227 and ask them to stand up for cancer patients by opposing the individual mandate repeal in the tax legislation.

For more information on how you can get involved, check out our #ProtectOurCare page »

Follow NCCS on Twitter to stay updated on developments: @CancerAdvocacy.


Related Posts


AHCA

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancer survivors were at the mercy of the health care system, often forced to pay exorbitant premiums or simply denied coverage altogether. Today, America’s 16 million cancer survivors benefit from the ACA’s patient protections that are critical to providing them with quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage. NCCS is actively engaged in advocating to ensure this unprecedented access for cancer patients and providers continues.

This week proved to be another busy week in health care. NCCS led a team with representatives from other cancer patient advocacy groups to attend meetings with Senators to encourage them to support the Alexander-Murray bipartisan stabilization bill.

The Alexander-Murray bill would fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments through 2019 and restore $106 million of the funding for enrollment outreach over the same time period. In exchange for these stabilization policies, states will have more flexibility to shape their own health care systems. As Vox explains, states would have to jump through fewer hoops for ACA waivers and approvals would be streamlined. The bill allows state flexibility regarding waivers, but retains critical patient protections, as states would not be allowed to waive essential health benefits or discriminate based on pre-existing conditions.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the impacts of the Alexander-Murray bill and the results were positive. The CBO said the bill could cut the U.S. deficit by $3.8 billion over the next decade. The CBO estimates that health insurance premiums likely wouldn’t change much, but neither would the bill drastically reduce the number of citizens covered under Obamacare. However, when looking at the CBO report, it is critical to remember that CBO was instructed to assume the CSR payments would continue when doing their analysis. We now know that is in fact not the case, so the true deficit reduction of Alexander-Murray is likely much higher than outlined by the CBO report.

While there are currently 24 co-sponsors of the Alexander-Murray bill, 12 Republican and 12 Democrat, not all Members are committed to a bipartisan approach to health care. This week, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced their own proposal that would also fund CSR payments. However, this “stabilization effort” of funding the CSR payments is offset by repealing the individual and employer mandate, which experts have said would destabilize the ACA marketplace. Not only does this proposal undermine productive bipartisan efforts to stabilize the health care market place, but it would hurt cancer patients who rely on a robust risk pool supported by these mandates.

The Alexander-Murray agreement is an important step forward in moving Congress toward bipartisan action on health care and away from damaging efforts to repeal the ACA and taking coverage away from millions of people. The bill rebukes the Administration’s efforts to undermine the ACA and would help to stabilize the marketplace.

Please contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support the Alexander-Murray bipartisan stabilization bill by calling our hotline at (844) 257-6227.

For more information on how you can get involved, check out our #ProtectOurCare page »

Follow NCCS on Twitter to stay updated on developments: @CancerAdvocacy.

Related Posts


AHCA

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancer survivors were at the mercy of the health care system, often forced to pay exorbitant premiums or simply denied coverage altogether. Today, America’s 16 million cancer survivors benefit from the ACA’s patient protections that are critical to providing them with quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage. NCCS is actively engaged in advocating to ensure this unprecedented access for cancer patients and providers continues.

For months, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have been working on a market stabilization bill that would fund the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and include other provisions to keep insurers in the markets. The stabilization bill was tabled when the Graham-Cassidy legislation was being considered, but now that efforts to repeal the ACA have stalled, Senators Alexander and Murray this week released the text of their bipartisan compromise. So far, 24 Senators have co-sponsored the bill, with a dozen of those co-sponsors being Republican Senators.

The Alexander-Murray bill would:
  • Guarantee CSR payments through 2019.
  • Restore a significant portion of the Administration’s cuts to ACA outreach and enrollment assistance.
  • Expand eligibility for “catastrophic plans”.
  • Make changes to 1332 waivers that allow states to modify certain provisions of the ACA.

The Alexander-Murray bill rebukes the Administration’s efforts to undermine the ACA by funding the CSR payments through 2019 and restoring $106 million of the funding for enrollment outreach over the same time period. In exchange for these stabilization policies, states will have more flexibility to shape their own health care systems.

As Vox explains, states would have to jump through fewer hoops for ACA waivers and approvals would be streamlined. The bill allows state flexibility regarding waivers, but retains critical patient protections, as states would not be allowed to waive essential health benefits or discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. Dylan Scott of Vox writes, “Looking ahead to 2019, the deal would undoubtedly provide more stability to the ACA markets, which were reaching an equilibrium before Trump intervened. The cost-sharing payments would be guaranteed, and plans would know that tens of millions of dollars would be spent on Obamacare outreach.”

Since the release of the bill text, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), American Hospital Association (AHA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the American Academy of Family Physicians have announced support of the legislation stating that patients and consumers benefit from more affordable health care and additional choices in a stable individual health insurance market. A bipartisan group of governors have announced their support for the bill, as have many advocacy and patient groups.

NCCS believes the Alexander-Murray agreement is an important step forward in moving Congress toward bipartisan action on health care and away from damaging efforts to repeal the ACA and taking coverage away from millions of people. The bill rebukes the Administration’s efforts to undermine the ACA and would help to stabilize the marketplace. NCCS and nearly 30 cancer advocacy organizations, representing patients, physicians, nurses, and social workers have joined together to support the legislation.

Please contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support the Alexander-Murray bipartisan stabilization bill by calling our hotline at (844) 257-6227.

For more information on how you can get involved, check out our #ProtectOurCare page »

Follow NCCS on Twitter to stay updated on developments: @CancerAdvocacy.

Related Posts


AHCA

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancer survivors were at the mercy of the health care system, often forced to pay exorbitant premiums or simply denied coverage altogether. Today, America’s 16 million cancer survivors benefit from the ACA’s patient protections that are critical to providing them with quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage. NCCS is actively engaged in advocating to ensure this unprecedented access for cancer patients and providers continues.
After the actions President Trump took this week, there’s no question the Administration is actively working to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yesterday, the President signed an Executive Order making sweeping changes to the ACA that would hurt patients and disrupt the ACA marketplace and he announced the Administration would halt cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. NCCS is alarmed by the efforts to undermine the ACA and calls on Congress to act immediately to ensure the funding of cost-sharing reductions. Read our statement on these actions here.

The Executive Order attempts to unwind the law through Administration action, since Americans and Congress rejected legislative repeal efforts. The order will allow insurance companies to sell cheaper, “junk” plans that are exempt from Obamacare requirements. These changes could expand coverage options for healthy customers, but would raise costs for individuals who need more comprehensive coverage, or potentially leave them without coverage options at all. The Order would allow insurance companies to sell short-term health plans and association plans for small businesses, and in some cases, individuals. Association plans exist today but the Executive Order would exclude them from ACA regulations that require all plans meet a minimum standard and cover essential health benefits.

The Executive Order, much like the ACA repeal bills that Congress considered this year, would be terrible for Americans with pre-existing conditions and leave millions with insurance policies that do not cover essential services like prescription drugs, hospital visits, or critical treatments. The new, less regulated insurance plans would be attractive to healthy people, while at the same time making it difficult for individuals with pre-existing conditions to find comprehensive health care coverage. This Order would be harmful to the 1.7 million Americans diagnosed with cancer this year and the millions who will be diagnosed in the future. As the 16 million Americans living with cancer well know, we are all only temporarily healthy.

Later in the day, President Trump took another action that would disrupt the marketplace and make it more difficult for low-income Americans to purchase health insurance through the exchanges. The administration announced it will immediately halt cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. The $7 billion in annual subsidies help around 7 million low-income Americans to afford their deductibles and co-pays. While the Administration has called the CSR payments a “bailout,” this characterization is inaccurate. The payments are made to insurance companies, who then pass them along to medical providers.

The Congressional Budget Office says that ending CSR payments will result in 1 million more Americans uninsured, premiums will rise by 20% and the deficit would rise by $194 billion. As the Washington Post reports, the uncertainty about what Trump would do has already driven premium prices higher for 2018 – in some states, increases topping 50 percent. Now it’s going to get worse. And NPR reports that pulling CSR payments not only hurts the low income Americans who depend on the subsidies, the decision will also hurt middle-class individuals who earn too much to qualify for help paying their premiums.

To be clear, these actions will have a combined effect of “sabotaging” the Affordable Care Act. The replacement will be “Trumpcare,” a system that will not offer adequate health care to Americans and that will instead put many at risk. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) strongly opposes the decision to pull CSR payments and the Executive Order to allow substandard health plans and we will be an active and aggressive participant in the regulatory process, to make sure that the needs of those with cancer and other serious illnesses are reflected and that their access to affordable and adequate health insurance is protected.

You can help us advocate for cancer survivors by contacting your senators to ask them to publicly state support for funding CSR payments and bipartisan legislation to ensure payment. Call our hotline # to be connected to your Members of Congress: (844) 257-6227

For more information on how you can get involved, check out our #ProtectOurCare page »

Follow NCCS on Twitter to stay updated on developments: @CancerAdvocacy.

Related Posts


AHCA

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancer survivors were at the mercy of the health care system, often forced to pay exorbitant premiums or simply denied coverage altogether. Today, America’s 16 million cancer survivors benefit from the ACA’s patient protections that are critical to providing them with quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage. NCCS is actively engaged in advocating to ensure this unprecedented access for cancer patients and providers continues.
Although the cancer community was pleased that the harmful Graham-Cassidy bill failed, the Affordable Care Act is still at great risk. Currently, the Administration is actively undermining the ACA by drastically cutting the budget for enrollment, cutting the time period for open enrollment in half, and cutting outreach and navigator budgets.

A group of ACA proponents recently banded together to work to help Americans enroll for the health care they need. Open enrollment begins on November 1st and the group called Get America Covered has launched a website with resources to supplant the efforts the Administration slashed. If you or your friends or family need to sign up for insurance, visit their website at GetAmericaCovered.org.

As former acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Andy Slavitt recently reported, a new threat to the ACA is what he’s calling a “synthetic repeal,” which would gut the ACA through means other than passing a repeal bill through Congress. Synthetic repeal could be achieved by chipping away at Medicaid, hollowing out patient protections through the use of waivers, and not enforcing the individual mandate, which is what ensures a stable health insurance market. Slavitt outlined three tools Republicans in Congress could use to achieve a synthetic repeal: through an Executive Order, the budget/tax plan, and administrative actions to sabotage the ACA. The potential Executive Order would allow association health plans which would offer no protections for pre-existing conditions and would turn the ACA into a high-risk pool. Slavitt warns that states that have tried this have seen premiums skyrocket and competitors leave the market.

NCCS is monitoring these efforts to undermine the ACA and is working to prevent the sabotage of cancer patients’ and survivors’ access to affordable health insurance.

For more information on how you can get involved, check out our #ProtectOurCare page »

Follow NCCS on Twitter to stay updated on developments: @CancerAdvocacy.


AHCA

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancer survivors were at the mercy of the health care system, often forced to pay exorbitant premiums or simply denied coverage altogether. Today, America’s 16 million cancer survivors benefit from the ACA’s patient protections that are critical to providing them with quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage. NCCS is actively engaged in advocating to ensure this unprecedented access for cancer patients and providers continues.
As you probably heard, earlier this week Republican leadership acknowledged they did not have the votes to proceed with the Graham-Cassidy bill, after nationwide opposition put immense pressure on key Senators. Thank you to all of you who called, wrote and visited your Members of Congress to explain to them how harmful this bill would be for cancer patients. And thank you for using your voice on social media to share information and calls to action with your network of friends and family. NCCS hosted two Facebook Live events to update patient advocates on the bill and they can be found here.

The Graham-Cassidy legislation would have given states enormous flexibility to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions, allowing insurers to charge sick people exorbitant premiums. The bill would have also allowed states to eliminate the essential health benefits, which ensure that each insurance plan covers critical services like prescription drugs, hospital visits, and chemotherapy. Because the Graham-Cassidy bill failed, these ACA patient protections remain in place, but we must stay vigilant because this fight is far from over. We understand that Senators Graham and Cassidy plan to reintroduce their bill in early 2018.

The next most pressing issue surrounding health care is the lack of clarity around cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, as mentioned above. These are payments the Federal government owes to insurance companies to help subsidize deductibles and copays for lower-income individuals. President Trump has threatened to stop making these payments, though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that premiums would increase by 20% if the government discontinues the subsidies, which many insurers have already considered in setting 2018 rates. This is why NCCS is encouraging Members of Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to stabilize the marketplace and make the cost-sharing reduction payments permanent. Senators Alexander and Murray were working together to do just that before the Graham-Cassidy bill pushed bipartisan efforts to the sidelines, and we are hopeful those efforts will continue. Now that we know the American people do not want to repeal the ACA, Congress should work to improve the law and ensure all Americans have access to comprehensive and affordable coverage.

Meanwhile, there are other ways the Trump administration is actively sabotaging the ACA, in addition to failing to commit to the cost-sharing reduction payments. These actions include weakening the individual mandate, cutting the open enrollment period in half, slashing the funding for enrollment outreach, and announcing that the Healthcare.gov will be shut down for extensive periods during open enrollment. These actions have created massive uncertainty in the insurance markets, driving up premiums. The efforts to sabotage enrollment threaten to reduce overall enrollment significantly and will make it more difficult for people, including cancer patients and survivors who need insurance, to purchase plans.

NCCS will continue to monitor congressional action and provide updates on our blog and social media platforms.

For more information on how you can get involved, check out our #ProtectOurCare page »

Follow NCCS on Twitter to stay updated on developments: @CancerAdvocacy.


AHCA

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancer survivors were at the mercy of the health care system, often forced to pay exorbitant premiums or simply denied coverage altogether. Today, America’s 16 million cancer survivors benefit from the ACA’s patient protections that are critical to providing them with quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage. NCCS is actively engaged in advocating to ensure this unprecedented access for cancer patients and providers continues.
Senators Graham and Cassidy are working hard to get their bill, known as the “Graham-Cassidy bill,” passed before the September 30th deadline. The Graham-Cassidy bill would eliminate the ACA’s subsidies and the Medicaid expansion and instead gives block grants to states to create their own individual health systems.

Nearly every patient group, the American Medical Association, AARP, all 50 state Medicaid directors (NAMD), and insurers agree that this bill would be bad for Americans. “Taken together, the per-capita caps and the envisioned block grant would constitute the largest intergovernmental transfer of financial risk from the federal government to the states in our country’s history,” NAMD’s board of directors wrote in a statement Thursday. Friday afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) issued a statement saying, “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal.” This is a very encouraging development, but we must remain vigilant until Graham-Cassidy is defeated and there no longer exists a threat to repeal the ACA.

“There are so many unknowns about this bill, but one thing is for sure: it would be terrible for patients.”
NCCS had many concerns with the Graham-Cassidy legislation, namely that it eliminates critical patient protections like ensuring those with pre-existing conditions cannot be discriminated against. The ACA banned insurers from charging sick people more than healthy people, and required that all plans include coverage for essential services like prescription drugs and hospital visits (known as essential health benefits). The Graham-Cassidy bill allows states to get rid of these ACA protections, which are absolutely critical to Americans living with cancer and other illnesses. We cannot go back to the days when insurers charged individuals with pre-existing conditions exorbitant premiums for skimpy coverage. This is why it’s critical that you call your Senators today at (844)257-6227 and tell them to vote NO on Graham-Cassidy.

Not only would this legislation dismantle significant parts of the ACA, but it would also drastically cut health care leaving already money-strapped states to pick up the tab. The block grants are estimated to be $107 billion less than what the federal government would have spent over the period 2020-2026 for ACA coverage. As Kaiser Family Foundation reports, there are winners and losers with the funding formula for the states, and the 31 states that expanded Medicaid will lose significant funding to provide health care to their constituents.

Another concerning aspect of the bill is the fact that the already insufficient block grant funding disappears after 2026. There are so many unknowns about this bill, but one thing is for sure: it would be terrible for patients. Additionally, because Republican leaders are pushing this bill through before the September 30th deadline, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will not have enough time for a full score to determine the impacts of this legislation. Senators will likely be voting on this bill without a full picture of its impacts on our nation’s economy, and they will not know how many millions of Americans will be left without insurance if this bill becomes law.

Because cancer survivors would lose critical patient protections and access to comprehensive and affordable coverage, we strongly oppose the bill. Please contact your Senators at (844) 257-6227 to tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy bill as it would be harmful to cancer patients and survivors. We need a bipartisan and transparent process to strengthen the ACA and help provide critical long-term stability.

For more information on how you can get involved, check out our #ProtectOurCare page »

Follow NCCS on Twitter to stay updated on developments: @CancerAdvocacy.


Related Post

ACA Update | September 20, 2017: NCCS Facebook Live – Harmful Graham-Cassidy Repeal Bill Breakdown & How You Can Help Stop It

ACA Update | September 15, 2017: Cassidy-Graham Repeal Plan Is Devastating for Patients—and Is Gaining Support in the Senate


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