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, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their analysis on the impacts of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). As expected, the results were devastating. The AHCA would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026 than under the current law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The coverage losses include 14 million from Medicaid, 6 million from individual insurance markets, and 3 million from employer-sponsored plans.

We already knew the policies within the AHCA would be terrible for cancer survivors, but the CBO outlined some of the specific ways the bill would hurt older Americans and people with pre-existing conditions:

  • The report says, “Over time, it would become more difficult for less healthy people (including people with pre-existing medical conditions) in those states [who obtain waivers for essential health benefits and community rating] to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly.”
  • The report also outlines the premium increases for older Americans, combined with tax credits that do not take into account the cost of plans, such that some individuals would face upwards of 800 percent increases in premiums.
  • The CBO continues to maintain that ACA markets are stable, but warns that in states that elect to pursue waivers of key patient protections, the markets will become unstable. The CBO estimates that 1/6 or 17 percent of Americans will live in states that choose this option.

Also this week, the Trump administration requested more time to decide the future of cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) in the ACA marketplace. While this decision does allow payments to continue in the short-term, the move only adds further uncertainty to insurers as they plan for 2018. Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina issued its proposal for 2018 rates, with an increase of nearly 23 percent for individual plans in the ACA marketplace. The spokesperson for BCBS North Carolina indicated that the increase is due in large part to uncertainty about whether the Trump administration will pay the CSRs and that increase would be less than 9 percent if the fate of CSR payments was certain.

NCCS is continuing to meet with Senate offices to discuss how the AHCA would impact cancer survivors. Now that we have the CBO score, which quantifies the devastating effects of this law, we are now even better equipped to explain how this bill would hurt cancer survivors. Neither the House nor the Senate has convened public hearings on the bill to hear from health care or patient experts, so it is critical that NCCS continues to advocate for cancer survivors on Capitol Hill and make sure their voices are heard during this debate. We sent this letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, outlining our concerns.

NCCS has met with both Democratic and Republican offices across the ideological spectrum and only one thing is clear to us: the AHCA is a bad bill that would hurt cancer patients.

Now is the time to contact your members of Congress and tell them that cancer survivors deserve better and to vote no on the AHCA.

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

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