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 Senate on Thursday evening delayed a final vote on the tax bill due to “deficit concerns.” However a vote is expected to occur today, as Senate leaders announced they believe they have the votes necessary. Things fell apart on Thursday when the parliamentarian ruled that a trigger (an increase in taxes if economic growth goals were not met) did not adhere to Senate rules. Senator Corker and others had conditioned their support on the trigger. As they were leaving the Senate floor on Thursday night, some Republican leaders conceded that the bill that would be voted on Friday was still not written.

To make matters worse, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) reported that the Senate Republicans’ bill would cost $1 trillion even when accounting for economic growth, highlighting the fact that the tax cut legislation would not pay for itself as has been asserted. A Senate vote on the bill is expected today and House leadership said they would quickly conference and pass the bill in their chamber. Time is of the essence and we need to make our voices heard TODAY. Use our hotline (844-257-6227) to contact your Members of Congress and tell them to oppose this bill as it would be harmful to patients.

Previously, the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill drove a wedge in the Republican caucus. But Republican leadership promised the Senators (namely Collins and Murkowski) who were concerned about the mandate repeal that they would also pass the Alexander-Murray bill that would fund cost-sharing reduction payments, along with a new reinsurance bill. Although this placated those Senators who had reservations about the mandate repeal, the “stabilization” provisions would be meaningless if the individual mandate is repealed. Repealing the individual mandate would leave 13 million Americans without health insurance and would raise premiums by at least 10%. The mandate ensures that individuals with pre-existing conditions, like cancer, are covered. We remain extremely concerned that the individual mandate repeal is included in the tax bill.

In addition to the individual mandate repeal, the tax bill would trigger sweeping changes to other federal programs that are important for cancer patients and survivors. Sarah Kliff of Vox wrote, “The bill also includes tax cuts so large that they would trigger across-the-board spending cuts — including billions for Medicare. The last time Medicare was hit with cuts like this, patients lost access to critical services like chemotherapy treatment.”

We are also monitoring the elimination or reduction of the medical expense deduction, which is included in the House version of the bill, but not the Senate version. NCCS joined AARP in support of the Collins Amendment to be included in the tax bill. The Collins Amendment would delay the tax increase from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of the income threshold after which medical expenses can be deducted on itemized returns. We support this delay as a needed, immediate step in the right direction to permanently restore the tax threshold for all Americans with high out-of-pocket medical costs.

We will continue to advocate on Capitol Hill to that tax reform does not come at the expense of cancer survivors and their families. Call your Members of Congress today at (844) 257-6227.

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