Affordable Care Act Resources

Affordable Care Act - #ProtectOurCare

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 continues.

On this page we provide regular updates on this ongoing debate, what it means for cancer survivors, and how survivors and advocates can make their voices heard.

Current Status January 10: Long-Term CHIP Funding Is Still Up in the Air

It has been over 100 days since Congress failed to pass long-term funding for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). Over 9 million children rely on CHIP for their medical care, including being treated for cancer.

Call (844) 257-6227 and tell your Member of Congress: no more excuses. Save CHIP and pass a long-term funding bill now.

For more details and background on the CHIP bill, read Vox.com’s article: “Congress let CHIP’s funding expire 101 days ago, and it’s a national disgrace”.


How Can I Get Involved?

Contact/Meet Your Members of Congress
Whether you attend a town hall event in your district, set up an in-person meeting with the district office, or call your Member, every effort is vital in saving our care. Did you know it takes on average only SEVEN phone calls for Members of Congress to flag an issue?

Take Action

Call Your Senators

NCCS has set up a toll-free number so you can easily call and be directly connected to the offices of your Senators. Call your Senators at (844) 257-6227 and urge them to oppose repeal of the medical expense deduction and the individual mandate.  We must work on constructive solutions that improve our health care system for all Americans.

Meet Your Members of Congress In Person

Meet with your Members of Congress at district events. Find a town hall meeting near you »

Check out our printable PDF tip sheet to help you prepare for calls, meetings, and town hall events. The sheet also contains sample questions to ask your Members of Congress.

NCCS Is Here to Help

We are happy to assist you in these advocacy efforts to support cancer patients and survivors. If you are interested in scheduling a meeting either in your local Congressional office or in Washington DC, please email our Public Policy Manager, Lindsay Houff, at lhouff@canceradvocacy.org.

Another important way you can make your voice heard is through op-eds in local newspapers. NCCS would love to help you draft an op-ed and provide instructions on getting the article published.

Social Media

Engage with Members of Congress on their social media platforms. Comment on their Facebook pages, or tweet directly at them (use the hashtag #ProtectOurCare). They and their staff DO pay attention to these things.

C-Span’s List of Congressional Twitter Handles »


Do you have questions or need assistance? We can help you set up meetings with your Members of Congress.
Please contact Lindsay Houff, Manager of Policy at lhouff@canceradvocacy.org.


ACA Status Updates

AHCA

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.
Two weeks ago, NCCS reported in our ACA Update that Idaho regulators said they would allow the sale of insurance plans that don’t adhere to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirements.

This week, the state took it a step further when Blue Cross of Idaho unveiled health plans that break the ACA’s federal health laws in several ways. Blue Cross of Idaho will attempt to sell insurance plans that are priced based on applicants’ health status.

For cancer survivors, this is deeply concerning as those with pre-existing conditions will be charged outrageous amounts for their health coverage. The ACA made it illegal to discriminate based on health status, so now it will be up to the Trump Administration, and newly appointed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, to either enforce federal law or allow state regulators to move forward with these harmful policies. Allowing Idaho to sell such plans would prompt other states to take similar action to undermine the ACA, taking us back to the days when patients were subjected to expensive and/or insufficient health care coverage.

As NPR reports, at a congressional hearing Wednesday, even as Blue Cross rolled out its plans, Azar was questioned about whether the Administration will uphold the ACA’s laws. “There are rules,” Azar said. “There is a rule of law that we need to enforce.” However, he didn’t specifically indicate whether the federal government would step in. Policy analysts say that allowing lower-cost plans that don’t meet the ACA’s standards would become more widespread and pull younger and healthier people out of Obamacare, raising prices for those who remain.

NCCS will continue to monitor this development and its impact on cancer survivors.


Related Posts


AHCA

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.

If you ask Dylan Scott, a health care reporter for Vox, about the risk of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being repealed, he’d say “The ACA is going to survive.” NCCS has heard this sentiment echoed by Members of Congress as well, with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell stating that he wants to move on to other priorities such as infrastructure. Even if congressional Republicans agreed on a health care bill that could pass the chamber, the task would be even more difficult this year because they have just a one-seat majority in the Senate after the Alabama special election went to a Democrat in December.

In his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Trump did not outline any efforts regarding health care reform but he did mention that the individual mandate was repealed as part of the tax deal. As we reported earlier, the true impact of mandate repeal on the individual marketplace remains to be seen. There are ongoing efforts to pass a bipartisan ACA stabilization bill that may be included in a continuing resolution to keep the government funded by February 8th. From our meetings on Capitol Hill, we’ve heard that this stabilization bill will be a combination of the Alexander-Murray cost-sharing reduction payment bill and the Collins-Nelson reinsurance bill. Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation said that of the two bills, the one that would have the most impact on insurance markets is Collins-Nelson, as it would substantially offset the premium increases.

Although we are unlikely to see any efforts to repeal the ACA through legislative action, the Trump administration has looked to alter the law administratively. Through the use of Association Health Plans and approving waivers with significant impacts to access, the administration can undermine the ACA’s patient protections. Idaho recently announced an executive order that would allow the state to offer plans that do not comply with the ACA’s regulations and protections. NCCS will remain vigilant in working to protect patients’ access to quality and affordable health coverage.


Related Posts


AHCA

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 federal government will shut down tonight at midnight if Congress doesn’t pass a spending bill before then. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was up for reauthorization four months ago, but because of budget disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on how to pay for the program, they have yet to come to an agreement. The House passed a continuing resolution, a short-term spending bill, that would fund the government until February 16. But Senate Democrats want a resolution to decide the fate of nearly 800,000 people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. If the Senate doesn’t pass a short-term spending bill today, there will be a government shutdown. Sadly, this means CHIP would remain in limbo and several states are expected to run out of money next month.

During a shutdown, some federal employees would be deemed “essential” and keep working. Funding for mandatory programs like Medicare and the ACA exchanges would also continue. As Axios reports, the bottom line is that Washington is caught up trying to decide which party would take the political blame for a shutdown. In the meantime, though, it would have very real consequences for important programs. Jake Sherman from Politico sums it up well: “Government is likely to shut down. Both sides feel emboldened. Both sides think they’re in the right. Both sides think the other side will get the blame.”

Another less-talked-about funding issue is that of community health centers. As the Star Tribune reports, “Congressional inaction could cause clinic doors to close or services to shrink in one or more of Community Health Service’s main locations. Reauthorization of funding for community health centers expired in September, alongside CHIP. Thousands, if not millions, of the nation’s neediest patients served by these providers may soon be scrambling to find care if legislation isn’t passed to keep grants flowing to what are known as “federally qualified health centers.”

Finally, another health care story making headlines this week was around the decline in the number of insured Americans in 2017. Having declined from 18% to 11% in just 3 years, the uninsured rates rose for the first time since 2013, according to Gallup News. The 1.3 percent increase equates to roughly 3.2 million Americans without health insurance, the largest single-year increase since 2008. Several factors contributed to the increase, including unpredictability in the ACA marketplace due to administrative actions and efforts to repeal the law, which chased some insurers out of the exchanges. Gallup reports that proposals to repeal and replace the health care law may have caused some consumers to question whether the government would enforce the penalty for not having insurance.


Related Posts


AHCA

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.
Earlier this week, NCCS’ CEO Shelley Fuld Nasso and Public Policy Manager Lindsay Houff hosted a Facebook Live health care policy update. They discussed legislative priorities for 2018 that impact cancer survivors and how you can help us advocate.

NCCS Facebook Live – Intro to 2018

NCCS discusses the latest health care developments and takes your questions.

Posted by National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship on Wednesday, 10 January 2018

 
The year has started out with several big health care proposals, so here’s a quick run down of what to keep your eye on.

Medicaid Work Requirements

On Thursday, the Trump administration released a 10-page memo outlining directions about how states can change Medicaid to include work requirements. Jane Perkins, legal director for the National Health Law Program, commented to Kaiser Health News:

“We believe that the work requirement is indeed a problem because it is not consistent with Medicaid’s objectives” to furnish medical assistance, she said. “Programs that assist people in finding and keeping work are effective, not programs that penalize them by stopping health insurance or blocking them from getting health coverage in the first place.”

NCCS is concerned about this policy’s impact on cancer patients and survivors. As Health Affairs reported last April, nearly 5 million enrollees could be at risk of losing their health insurance if a work requirement is implemented, and this includes individuals with serious health problems such as cancer. It is being reported that at least 10 states are interested in applying these work requirements, with Kentucky’s request being approved by CMS earlier today.

NCCS is concerned that work requirements will result in health care being denied to thousands of low-income people, and opposes any work requirements that do not include defined exemptions for people who cannot work due to illness, such as cancer treatment, or caregiving responsibilities. NCCS will continue to monitor these developments and their impacts on those living with cancer.

CHIP Negotiations Continue

Lawmakers also continue to debate how long to fund CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). Democrats are pushing for a permanent reauthorization of CHIP, after a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report said it would save the federal government $6 billion over the next decade. Republicans are considering including a funding extension of at least five years for CHIP in a stopgap spending bill to fund the government past Jan. 19. CHIP, a federal-state matching program, serves nearly nine million moderate- to low-income children, including pediatric cancer survivors. Time is of the essence, as several states report money for the program could run out in February.

Please use our hotline to contact your Representatives and ask them to fund CHIP immediately. Simply call (844) 257-6227 to be connected to your Member.


Related Posts


AHCA

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.

Not surprisingly, 2018 has started out with a bang and there are significant health care changes already in the works or coming down the pike. In this week’s Affordable Care Act Update, we lay out these changes and how they impact cancer survivors.

Individual Mandate Repeal

At the end of December, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which included the repeal of the individual mandate. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 13 million fewer Americans will have insurance coverage over the next decade with repeal of the mandate. In addition, it was projected that premiums would increase by 10% because the pool of individuals purchasing insurance would be sicker and more expensive to insure. As Politico reports, by eliminating the mandate, which requires those who opt out of coverage to pay a penalty, Republicans have finally notched a significant legislative victory in their years-long crusade against Obamacare. President Donald Trump has said that Congress has “essentially repealed” the 2010 health care law. However, this is not accurate as the core provisions in the ACA remain in place, which include protections against pre-existing conditions, lifetime and annual spending caps, Medicaid expansion, and health insurance tax credits.

With repeal of the individual mandate, health care experts continue to debate the future of the ACA. Some think individual mandate repeal poses a serious challenge to the stability of health insurance markets, and that cost-sharing reduction payments and reinsurance funding are critical to providing relief and stability to the markets. Other experts think that the ACA marketplaces are more stable than previously thought and that the mandate repeal will only have a limited impact. All agree that there are some states where the marketplaces have vulnerabilities, even if overall the marketplaces are strong. We should get a better sense of the impact as insurance companies begin to announce their coverage plans over the next few months.

Threat of ACA Repeal Remains

Almost immediately after passage of the tax bill, reports of health coverage signups through the ACA enrollment period ending December 15, 2017, were released. To date, nearly 9 million Americans enrolled in insurance plans. This total is just slightly lower than the previous year’s enrollment of 9.2 million, despite the fact that this enrollment period was cut in half and millions of dollars in funding were cut for advertising and insurance counselors.

Despite another successful ACA enrollment period, Republican Members of Congress have very different views on what is next for the ACA in 2018. In an interview with NPR soon after the tax bill was passed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that it was time for the Senate to move on from additional efforts to repeal the ACA. On the other hand, Senator Lindsay Graham – the proponent of one of several repeal and replace measures considered by the Senate – challenged Leader McConnell and urged another attempt to repeal ACA.

Association Health Plans

Yesterday, the administration released proposed rules regarding Association Health Plans. The expansion of so-called association health plans is part of a broader effort to encourage the rise of cheaper coverage options that are exempt from certain Obamacare patient protections and benefit rules. However, lax rules could open the door to a new wave of poorly regulated health plans that exclude coverage of key services required by the Affordable Care Act, such as hospitalizations and prescription drugs.

“Any one of those steps in isolation wouldn’t necessarily destabilize the markets, but the combination of all these actions is likely to make insurers very nervous,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “The ultimate risk is that more insurers decide that the market is too risky and they exit, leaving counties with no options at all.”

AHPs pose a very serious threat to cancer patients and survivors. Because they are not required to cover essential health benefits, they may pull away younger and healthier people, leaving those with pre-existing conditions who need essential health benefit coverage to potentially pay higher costs.

When the time comes, we will be calling on you to be in touch with House and Senate offices to urge action to protect the ACA and oppose any that does not include consumer and patient protections.


Related Posts


AHCA

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.
Early Wednesday morning, the House and Senate passed the Republican tax plan, and the bill was signed into law by the president on Friday. NCCS monitored the tax bill closely as it contains several provisions that will impact health care. Namely, it eliminates the individual mandate, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated will result in the loss of health coverage for 13 million Americans and an increase of 10% in premiums.

During his speech on the tax bill, the president stated that Congress essentially repealed the ACA by getting rid of the individual mandate. This is not the case. In fact, as Politico explains, the individual mandate is only part of the ACA. It wasn’t even included in the original health care plan that Barack Obama unveiled during the 2008 campaign.

The mandate did become an important element of the ACA, and the only specific element that a majority of the public opposed. But the more generous elements of the program—like a major expansion of Medicaid, significant government subsidies for private insurance premiums, and strict protections for pre-existing conditions—are still popular, and still the law of the land.

Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation said, “The death of Obamacare has been exaggerated. Eliminating the mandate creates uncertainty, but all the benefits for people remain in place.” The individual mandate helped to bring a large, diverse population to the health care markets, making it more feasible to provide patients with the popular benefits. Time will tell what its repeal will do to the long-term stability and affordability of health insurance.

NCCS also closely monitored and met with Members of Congress to ask them to protect the medical expense deduction, which would have been eliminated in the original House proposal. NCCS joined AARP in a letter to leadership asking to retain this critical deduction that millions of Americans with high health care needs and low incomes utilize. We are pleased that the deduction remains intact and the threshold for qualifying for the deduction was actually lowered to 7.5%, compared to 10%.

NCCS Thanks You For Your Advocacy

As we head into the holiday recess, we want to express our deep gratitude to advocates for your countless phone calls, emails, district meetings, op-eds, and for sharing your stories in order to protect health care for cancer patients and survivors across the U.S.

In the beginning of the year, the president and Congress promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and thanks to your hard work and advocacy, the millions who rely on the ACA for their health coverage are still protected by the law as we head into 2018. However, our work is far from over as the new year poses many challenges to programs that ensure cancer patients have access to health care and we will continue to advocate on your behalf every day.


AHCA

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.
Today is the last day of open enrollment for the ACA for 2018 plans. Most people can find plans for less than $75 a month. If you are auto enrolled into a plan because your insurer exited the market, you are allowed more time through a special enrollment period. Sign up at www.healthcare.gov. If you have questions or need any help signing up, call the official help line at 1-800-318-2596.

This week, the House and Senate continued to conference – or negotiate the differences between their two versions of the tax bill – and reports indicate the two chambers have struck a deal. Unfortunately, this deal includes the repeal of the individual mandate. NCCS met with Senator Susan Collins’ office this week to request that she oppose the tax bill as long it includes repealing the individual mandate, which would threaten important patient protections for cancer patients and survivors. Repealing the individual mandate would also result in 13 million fewer Americans having health coverage, and raise premiums by 10 percent.

Senator Collins voted in favor of the tax bill with the condition that two stabilization bills will be passed before the year ends in order to offset the negative impacts of repealing the individual mandate. One bill, known as Alexander-Murray, would temporarily restore cost sharing subsidies to insurers. The second bill, Collins-Nelson, would fund a two-year reinsurance program helping health plans cover particularly expensive patients. As we reported last week, these two stabilizing bills would not offset the expected premium increases as a result of repealing the individual mandate. Nor would they be able to mitigate the damage repealing the mandate would have on an already unsteady Obamacare market as it would lead to an exodus of healthy people and cause insurers to raise prices to cover the costs.

Congress is running up against the holiday recess and leadership is trying to get this bill through in the next week. There are lots of moving pieces and we will keep you updated as the story develops. Please call your Members of Congress, (202) 224-3121, and ask them to oppose the tax bill because tax reform should not come at the expense of cancer patients.


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