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 American Health Care Act (AHCA), the long-awaited Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was unveiled earlier this week. NCCS released a statement opposing the AHCA, explaining that this legislation would be devastating for older, sicker, and poorer Americans, let alone those facing a cancer diagnosis. By ending the ACA’s cost-sharing provisions and replacing ACA subsidies with tax credits based on age, not income, this bill would make coverage more expensive, if not completely out of reach, for many cancer survivors. Additionally, the legislation radically restructures the Medicaid program and shifts funding from the federal government to states.

The bill preserves two of the most popular provisions of the ACA, which allow children to stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26, and forbids insurers from denying coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions such as cancer. However, these protections are useless if individuals are unable to afford insurance.

The AHCA hurts older Americans the most by allowing insurance companies to charge up to five times as much for premiums as younger individuals. With more than 60% of cancer diagnoses occurring in older Americans and many cancer survivors depending on Medicaid, this bill leaves the most vulnerable populations without sufficient access to care.

Major medical and interest groups, including AARP, the American Medical Association (AMA), America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the American Hospital Association (AHA), have publicly opposed or expressed serious concerns with the AHCA, citing that the bill would result in millions of Americans losing coverage and benefits. The bill still lacks a complete analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), but several analyses have already concluded that the AHCA would make health insurance less affordable. A report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that consumers’ costs would likely increase even more than tax credits would fall, since the House plan would probably cause individual market premiums to rise.

It’s not just large interest groups that are speaking out against the AHCA. Individuals across the U.S. are realizing that this replacement plan would undo much of the progress made by the ACA and force patients to carry the burden of the cost of health care. A New York Times article highlights the story of a woman named Martha from North Carolina who voted for Donald Trump because she believed his Administration would make health care more affordable. In an interview earlier this year, President Trump vowed the replacement plan would have “insurance for everybody,” but the AHCA is far from achieving that goal. Since the release of the replacement bill, Martha is growing increasingly nervous because the replacement plan would decrease her premium subsidy by more than $5,000 per year.

Despite the absence of a cost estimate for the AHCA by the CBO, the health care plan passed in two House committees Thursday and will now head to the House Budget Committee for consideration and mark-up. The bill will face significant hurdles, not just in opposition from Democrats, but also from Republican Members who either feel that the bill goes too far, specifically with the elimination of the Medicaid expansion, and Republicans of the Freedom Caucus who feel the bill does not repeal enough of the government’s role in subsidizing health care coverage.

The AHCA would be a significant step backward from the ACA’s affordability and patient protections, and will hurt millions of Americans, including cancer patients and survivors. Call your Representative and Senators today and let them know that cancer patients and survivors deserve better.

Learn more about the ACA, including tips for contacting your lawmakers »