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’s news was dominated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issuing its long-awaited analysis of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The scathing report was worse than many had predicted, estimating that 24 million more individuals would be uninsured in comparison to if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remained in place. That would total 52 million Americans without health insurance by 2026, the highest uninsured rate in the nation’s history. The CBO estimates that the AHCA’s overhaul of Medicaid would reduce the number of Medicaid enrollees by 14 million and cut spending on the program by $880 billion. 

Further, the report outlines how premiums would rise for various populations. For example:
“A 64-year-old who earns $20,000 would see her premiums rise from $1,700 to $14,600 under the Republican plan — a 758 percent increase. She’d be expected to spend more than half her annual income on health insurance.”
(Vox.com – “2 winners and 3 losers under the CBO score of the GOP health plan”)

This bad news rattled many Members of Congress, and led House Speaker Paul Ryan to admit that the AHCA “must change to pass the House, marking a significant retreat from his earlier position that the carefully crafted legislation would fail if substantially altered.”
(Washington Post – “Ryan: Health care plan must change to pass the House”)

Despite the unfavorable CBO analysis, the AHCA made its way through three House committees, without a single hearing to gain patient or provider perspective on the bill. Next week, the AHCA is expected to be brought to the House floor, where it has been reported that a manager’s amendment will be used to make changes to the bill to increase conservative support. The future of the AHCA remains unknown, as many House Republicans are divided on the bill and several Senators have publicly voiced their concern about the legislation, particularly the reduction in the Medicaid expansion.

CNN’s Town Hall with Tom Price

CNN hosted a town hall meeting this week, with Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price. Colon cancer survivor Brian Kline said that the Medicaid expansion saved his life and saved him from bankruptcy. He said, “My life really depends on having access to my doctors and medical care. Why do you want to take away my Medicaid expansion?” Secretary Price responded that the Medicaid program has problems and does not work well for everyone.

Public Opinion of the AHCA and ACA

The Kaiser Family Foundation released polling that showed that about half of respondents believe the AHCA will reduce the number of people covered, and a similar share of respondents believe the AHCA will increase costs, with Republicans more optimistic about the effect of the AHCA than Democrats. The public remains split on the ACA, with just over half of respondents opposing repeal, and approximately half with a favorable view of the ACA.

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. As a full House vote is expected next week, timing is critical and your voice must be heard! 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 »