Shelley Fuld Nasso

By Shelley Fuld Nasso

NCCS Chief Executive Officer

After a dramatic week in Washington, the Senate voted last night to reject the “skinny repeal” bill that would have destabilized insurance markets and resulted in 15 million fewer people insured as early as next year. The vote was the third repeal bill the Senate rejected this week.

It is not clear what’s next, but for today, we can breathe a sigh of relief that millions of Americans will not lose coverage.

In talking to cancer survivors, in person and on social media, I clearly sensed their fear and anxiety that they would no longer be able to afford insurance, or that they would once again face denials because of their pre-existing condition. The repeal debate itself had a human toll, and if the bill had been successful, it would have been an unimaginable toll.

“Together, we showed Members of Congress how important insurance is for cancer patients and survivors. I’m truly humbled by the tireless efforts of so many people.”
To be honest, at the beginning of this year, I thought that Congress would pass a repeal bill quickly and have it ready for President Trump to sign soon after inauguration. I never imagined that in late July, Congress would still be debating this legislation or that they would vote it down repeatedly. With Republicans in control of the White House, House, and Senate, they should have had the votes to repeal. That they didn’t is a testament to advocacy.

We are deeply grateful for the advocacy of so many cancer survivors, caregivers, advocates, family members, nurses, and physicians who stood up for the needs of cancer patients. Our colleagues in the cancer community—more than 30 patient advocacy and provider organizations—joined with us to present a united front against multiple versions of the legislation.

CPAT Members and CUPID medical students
meet with Sen. Sherrod Brown

Members of NCCS’ Cancer Policy & Advocacy Team (CPAT) shared their stories, spoke with reporters, wrote blog posts, placed op-eds in their local newspapers, met with legislators in their districts, attended rallies, made phone calls, encouraged their friends and family to make phone calls, and even traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators as part of our CPAT Symposium last month. Together, we showed Members of Congress how important insurance is for cancer patients and survivors. I’m truly humbled by the tireless efforts of so many people.

We at NCCS will continue to advocate for access to quality, affordable health insurance for cancer survivors. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided vital protections for people with pre-existing conditions, subsidies to purchase insurance, and Medicaid for millions of people. But premiums and deductibles are too high, and in some areas of the country, there are few (or even no) choices for consumers. Now, we must hold the administration accountable to implement the law faithfully, including upholding the commitment to subsidize copayments and we must hold Congress accountable to address the shortcomings in the marketplace.

Thank you for your support of NCCS and your advocacy efforts!

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