Affordable Care Act Resources

Affordable Care Act - #ProtectOurCare

ALERT: On July 15, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that a vote on the Senate’s health repeal bill, BCRA, would be postponed to allow Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to recover from surgery. This delay cannot disrupt advocacy efforts to defeat this harmful bill. The stakes couldn’t be higher, as the bill would cause 22 million people to lose health care coverage, gut Medicaid funding, cause premiums to rise for older and sicker Americans, and completely erode protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Despite recent changes, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes: “The Senate bill isn’t fixable: every major element would cause people to lose coverage or make it unaffordable.”

It’s actually been made worse with the adoption of the Cruz amendment, which would segment the market into healthy people and sick people. In fact, the insurance industry came out in strong opposition, saying: “premiums will skyrocket for preexisting conditions” and calling the amendment “unworkable.” Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Tom Price said that insurers should “dust off” their business practices from before the ACA was implemented – a time when cancer survivors could not purchase reasonably priced insurance.

NOW is the time to call your Senators to voice your opposition to this harmful legislation. Everyone should call, but the following states are especially critical: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Maine, Nevada, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Please share this message with friends and family who live in any of those states. Thank you for standing up to protect cancer patients, survivors, and their families. Call 844-257-6227 to be directly connected with your Senators.

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.

However, that access is under serious threat with the Senate trying to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) and the House of Representatives passing the American Health Care Act (AHCA). These catastrophic bills would cause:

  • At least 22 million people to lose health coverage, including many with employer-sponsored insurance;
  • Medicaid, a life-line for nearly 80 million people, to be gutted resulting in 15 million losing coverage and significant cuts for those who remain;
  • Premiums to skyrocket, especially for older and sicker Americans;
  • Pre-existing condition protections and essential health benefits to be repealed for millions.

Millions of cancer patients, survivors, and their families would be severely impacted.
On this page we will provide regular updates on the legislation, what they mean for cancer survivors, and how survivors and advocates can make their voices heard in this debate.


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?

Call Your Senators 844-257-6227Call Your Senators

The Senate GOP recently released their version of the ACA repeal bill that they crafted in secret. Under this bill, millions of Americans, including cancer survivors, will lose health insurance. Cancer survivors are at risk of losing vital protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase for millions of Americans, especially older, sicker people.

NCCS has set up a toll-free number to make it easy for you to call your Senators and urge them to reject the AHCA. Call (844) 257-6227 to be directly connected to your Senator’s office.


Tips on Town Halls, In-Person Meetings, and More

This printable PDF tip sheet below includes helpful information about setting up meetings, attending town halls, and calling Congress. The sheet also contains sample questions to ask your Members of Congress.

Find a town hall meeting near you »

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.

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.
Since January, the health care debate has been tumultuous and unpredictable—and this week was no exception. Four Republican senators announced early in the week that they oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), stopping the bill from moving forward as planned.

Thanks to your advocacy efforts here in D.C., the phone calls, emails and letters to your Members of Congress, YOU helped stop this destructive legislation from becoming law last week, as Republican leader Mitch McConnell had planned. But there is no time to celebrate, as McConnell is intent on going against public opinion and repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Here’s what happened this week:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the revised BCRA would result in 22 million more American uninsured. The report does not include an analysis of the Cruz amendment that would let insurers sell “skinny plans” that don’t meet Obamacare insurance regulations, as long as they also sell ACA-compliant ones. Premiums on the individual market under this version are expected to increase by significantly in coming years. The Cruz amendment would destabilize the insurance market and leave even more people uninsured.

As The Hill reported, Senators are hurtling toward an Obamacare repeal vote early next week, even though they currently lack the votes for either option on the table. Senators are unclear what they will be voting on next week, with just days to go before a critical vote to begin debate that’s expected to come on Tuesday. The two leading options are a repeal-only bill or an updated version of the Senate’s repeal-and-replacement measure.

The CBO has estimated that 32 million people would lose coverage under the repeal and delay bill. This is the same bill that the Senate passed in 2015 but was vetoed by President Obama. CBO updated its estimates of the 2015 bill earlier this year. The repeal/delay bill eliminates the Medicaid expansion, but does not have the same deep cuts to the Medicaid program as the AHCA and BCRA. It retains patient protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but eliminates subsidies and cost-sharing reductions to help people afford insurance, which would lead to significant premium increases (20-25% in the first year, up to 100% by 2026) and coverage losses.

The coverage losses alone would be devastating for cancer patients and survivors. We oppose ACA “repeal and delay,” as 32 million Americans would lose coverage and premiums would rise, making insurance unaffordable for cancer patients and survivors.

Please keep calling your Senators and ask they vote NO and work together in a bipartisan manner to improve health insurance. Call today at (844) 257-6227.


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NCCS Statement on Senate’s Latest Health Care Reform Developments


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.

Senate Releases New Draft of BCRA; Cruz Amendment Included

Yesterday, Senate leadership released an updated draft version of their health care repeal bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). As Andy Slavitt, former acting director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, states, “Trumpcare went from being very bad to unworkably bad.” The bill allows insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and to charge higher rates to sick people.

A version of the Cruz Amendment, which we reported on last week, was included in the bill. The amendment allows insurers to also sell plans that do not comply with ACA regulations, including the law’s essential health benefits and its pre-existing conditions protections. This amendment would drastically increase premiums for sick people, provide plans that are not comprehensive, and destabilize the market. As Ezra Klein reports, this bill is terrible for anyone who is sick, has been sick, or will be sick.

Kaiser Family Foundation developed a useful interactive chart that compares the ACA, the House passed version (the AHCA), and the proposed Senate version (the BCRA).

The ACA has provided cancer survivors with unprecedented access to quality and affordable health care and we cannot afford to go back to the days when insurers could deny coverage based on health status or charge outrageous premiums for skimpy plans.

Since the release of the revised bill, two Senators have announced they will vote “No,” and with only one more needed to halt the bill.

It is critical that Senators on both sides of the aisle hear from their constituents and cancer survivors on how this bill would negatively affect access to affordable and comprehensive health care. Please call your Senators today at (844) 257-6227.


NCCS Joins Thirty-three Cancer-Related Organizations to Oppose the BCRA

NCCS joined 33 cancer-related patient advocacy and professional organizations in opposition to the revised BCRA. In the statement, NCCS CEO, Shelley Fuld Nasso wrote, “With an estimated 22 million losing coverage, severe cuts to Medicaid, and elimination of pre-existing condition protections, this bill is devastating for the American people, especially for anyone with a cancer diagnosis. It is time to end this threat that is causing fear and anxiety throughout the cancer community, and work towards bipartisan solutions to strengthen current law.”


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Silver Spring, MD – The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) joined 33 cancer-related patient advocacy and professional organizations in opposition to the Senate’s revised Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

“The Senate’s BCRA, just as the House’s AHCA, is a direct threat to America’s 16 million cancer patients and survivors who rely on timely and uninterrupted access to comprehensive and affordable health care,” said NCCS CEO Shelley Fuld Nasso. “With an estimated 22 million losing coverage, severe cuts to Medicaid, and elimination of pre-existing condition protections, this bill is devastating for the American people, especially for anyone with a cancer diagnosis. It is time to end this threat that is causing fear and anxiety throughout the cancer community, and work towards bipartisan solutions to strengthen current law.”

34 Cancer-Related Patient and Professional Organizations Jointly Oppose the Senate's BCRA

The groups who joined the effort are:

  1. American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
  2. American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)
  3. Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC)
  4. Association of Oncology Social Work
  5. Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association
  6. CancerCare
  7. Cancer Support Community
  8. Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy
  9. Colon Cancer Alliance
  10. Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation
  11. Critical Mass
  12. Deadliest Cancers Coalition
  13. Fight Colorectal Cancer
  14. FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
  15. Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation
  16. LIVESTRONG
  17. Living Beyond Breast Cancer
  18. Lung Cancer Alliance
  19. LUNGevity
  20. Lymphoma Research Foundation
  21. Melanoma Research Alliance
  22. National Brain Tumor Society
  23. National Breast Cancer Coalition
  24. National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
  25. National Comprehensive Cancer Network
  26. National Patient Advocate Foundation
  27. Oncology Nursing Society
  28. Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance
  29. Sarcoma Foundation of America
  30. Stupid Cancer
  31. Susan G. Komen
  32. Triage Cancer
  33. Us TOO International
  34. Young Survival Coalition
# # #


Read more of our ACA repeal coverage, including tips for advocacy »

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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.

Several GOP Senators Raise Concerns

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) decided to delay the vote for the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), there was a collective sigh of relief from the patient community. But our work is far from over. The Senate is still planning to move forward with their attempt to pass the bill, and now is a critical time to voice your opposition to this harmful legislation.

The most recent Senator to speak out against the bill is North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, after meeting with hospital executives and constituents. Senator Hoeven is one of several Republican senators who have said they cannot vote for the legislation as drafted. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) also said they could not vote for the bill.

The Cruz Amendment

In the meantime, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) drafted an amendment to the BCRA that is currently being scored by the Congressional Budget Office. Text of his amendment is not available, but based on reporting, the Cruz amendment would permit issuers to offer non-ACA compliant plans in a state as long as the issuers also offer an ACA-compliant plan. This proposal would gut consumer protections and would lead to adverse selection in the marketplace, creating a two-tiered system. Cancer survivors know they need comprehensive coverage, and plans that cover needed scans, tests, and treatments may be unaffordable.

According to Modern Health’s reporting:

“Insurers are concerned that [the Cruz amendment] would make it challenging to keep premiums low for everyone,” said an insurance industry official. “The sick would be attracted to generous plans, while the healthy would be attracted to cheaper plans, with the knowledge they could always move into more generous plans if they got sick,” said Craig Garthwaite, a health insurance expert at Northwestern University. “That kind of adverse selection makes pricing and offering insurance very hard.”

Cruz’s proposal would mean insurers could sidestep ACA rules requiring that they:

  • Accept all customers regardless of pre-existing conditions;
  • Vary premiums based only on age, charging older people up to five times more than younger people under the Senate bill;
  • Set no annual or lifetime benefit limit; and
  • Offer 10 minimum essential benefits in all plans.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday that the Senate bill’s provision allowing states to waive ACA rules such as essential benefits would lead to higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs for people who need services no longer included in essential benefits, such as cancer survivors. The CBO reported that some people would forgo needed services because of those higher costs.

An Unfixable Bill

While several Senators have expressed concerns with this bill, they will no doubt be targeted by leadership with amendments to the BCRA in order to garner their vote. It is important that as advocates and survivors we let them know this bill cannot be fixed. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes: “The Senate bill isn’t fixable: every major element would cause people to lose coverage or make it unaffordable.”

Yesterday, Senator McConnell said that if they cannot pass a repeal bill, they will have to work with Democrats to address problems in the insurance markets. A bipartisan approach to fixing the ACA’s market issues, rather than dismantling the ACA, would be best for the health of cancer survivors in the United States.

NOW is the time to call your Senators to voice your opposition to this harmful legislation. Everyone should call, but the following states are especially critical: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Please share this message with friends and family who live in any of those states. Thank you for standing up to protect cancer patients, survivors, and their families. Call 844-257-6227 to be directly connected with your Senators.


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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.

As you likely heard on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he would not proceed with a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) this week, as was previously planned. The BCRA, the Senate’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, was released last week in draft form and on Monday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their report on the bill.

The CBO analysis confirmed what we already knew. Just like the House version, the BCRA would be devastating; causing 22 million people to lose coverage, including 15 million who depend on Medicaid, and increasing costs for less coverage for millions of sick, elderly, and low-income Americans.

The BCRA’s damage doesn’t stop there.

By allowing states to waive essential health benefits, the bill essentially guts protections for pre-existing conditions, potentially affecting those on employer-sponsored health plans. While insurers would not be able to deny coverage to cancer patients, insurers would be able to deny coverage for certain benefits and treatments, such as chemotherapy or prescription drugs.

In addition, the BCRA not only phases out the Medicaid expansion, but seeks drastic and permanent cuts to Medicaid, which has helped millions of cancer patients get access to health care that their lives depend on.

Taking Action

On Tuesday, CPAT advocates with NCCS went to the Hill for over 160 meetings with Members and their staff, sharing their stories and asking their Members of Congress to vote NO on this destructive bill.

Although the BCRA will not be brought to the floor this week, the battle is far from over. As we speak, Senators are negotiating changes and plan to resubmit the bill to the CBO and vote after the 4th of July recess. It is critical that we continue to let our Senators know that no amount of tinkering will fix such a disastrous and flawed bill.

The only option is for a new, bipartisan, and open process to take its place—one that will build on the success of the Affordable Care Act and actually improve our nation’s health care system.

Please call your Senators today at (844) 257-6227 so this bill is stopped from harming millions of cancer patients and survivors who should only be focused on their health; NOT on whether they’ll be able to keep or afford their health care.


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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.
Yesterday, after weeks of working on their health care repeal bill in secret with no hearings, Senate Republicans released a “discussion draft” of their Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2016 (BCRA). After the House passed their bill (called the AHCA), Senators like Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said “The Senate will review the House bill but will write its own version over the next few weeks.”

Despite such statements, the Senate version is very similar to the House and is actually worse than we thought. Sarah Kliff at Vox.com sums it up:

The bill asks low- and middle-income Americans to spend significantly more for less coverage. The bill would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the Medicaid program, which currently covers millions of low-income Americans, and include additional cuts to Medicaid. It would rework the individual market so that enrollees get less financial help to purchase less generous health insurance with higher deductibles.

 

Furthermore, the bill significantly threatens anyone with a pre-existing condition, by allowing states to waive Essential Health Benefit (EHB) requirements. As Tim Jost at Health Affairs Blog points out:

Individuals with preexisting conditions would be able to get coverage, but they could be denied coverage for the pharmaceuticals or services that they would need for treatment of their preexisting conditions. Waivers of EHB could also affect large employer plans, which are only prohibited from imposing annual and lifetime limits on EHB and only required to cap out-of-pocket expenditures for EHB.

 
Basically, yes, people with pre-existing conditions won’t be denied the ability to purchase health insurance. HOWEVER, that insurance might not cover any treatments or medicines they need. Without requirements for benefits to be covered, insurers will offer skimpy plans that won’t meet the needs of cancer survivors. Premiums will rise for more generous plans that people with pre-existing conditions need. Note: waiving EHB also returns annual and lifetime limit caps for millions of people.

Finally, what BCRA does to Medicaid, which millions of children and low-income, disabled, and elderly Americans rely on for health care is cruel. Per Sarah Kliff again:

The Senate bill begins to phase out the Medicaid expansion in 2021 — and cuts the rest of the program’s budget too. The Senate bill would end the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans. This program has provided coverage to more Americans than the private marketplaces. It would also cut the rest of the public insurance program. [BCRA] would also limit government spending on the rest of the Medicaid program, giving states a set amount to spend per person rather than the insurance program’s currently open-ended funding commitment.

Please call (844) 257-6227 TODAY and tell your Senators NO on the health care bill. Even if you’ve called before, please call again.

Call EVERY DAY until the Senate votes.

Senators in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia are crucial votes. Please share this message with friends and family members who live in these states, and ask them to call (844) 257-6227.


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AHCA
If you haven’t already called your Senators’ offices to tell them to reject the AHCA, now is the time. If you have called, thank you! And keep calling. If you have friends or family in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Maine, Nevada, Tennessee, and West Virginia, please urge them to call. Senators from these states are crucial votes and need to hear from their constituents. Senate leadership set a goal of July 4th recess to bring the bill to the floor and access to health care for millions of cancer survivors across the U.S. is at stake.

Call 844-257-6227 to be connected to your Senators today.

As we reported last week, moderate Republicans in the Senate seem to be caving on their earlier promises to reject any bill that slashes Medicaid funding. Senators Collins and Capito have reportedly stated they would consider a “phasing out” of the Medicaid expansion program.

However, lengthening the timeframe for ending the program does nothing to help the millions of people who depend on Medicaid for health insurance, including low-income, disabled, and elderly Americans. Because the Senate can only lose two votes on the AHCA, each Senator is critical and it is extremely concerning to hear moderate members negotiate away their constituents’ access to health care.

To increase confusion around the American Health Care Act (AHCA), President Trump this week changed his analysis of the House passed bill from being “incredibly well-crafted” to now being, “Mean, mean, mean,” as the Senate considers the legislation. Earlier this year, Trump said his health care replacement would be “great” and “would cover everyone.” The AHCA is a far cry from providing coverage for everyone. In fact, it would take health insurance away from millions and cause costs to go up for our most vulnerable communities.

Adding to the growing list of negative analyses of the AHCA, the following reports and estimates were released this week:

  • The Center for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) independent actuary this week released a report that found the bill would result in 13 million fewer insured, a 61% increase in cost sharing (including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance), and an increase of $221 billion in out-of-pocket health costs.
  • An analysis by the Center for American Progress showed that “as many as 27 million Americans could face annual limits on their coverage, and 20 million could be hit with lifetime limits.”
  • An analysis by The Commonwealth Fund estimates that nearly one million jobs will be lost if the AHCA is implemented, with most coming from the health care sector. The hardest hit states would be those that expanded Medicaid.
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that people of all ages will lose coverage under the AHCA, but strikingly, the uninsured rate for children will increase by 50 percent.
  • Finally, the American Medical Association (AMA) came out against the AHCA saying the bill’s Medicaid caps are a “disaster” and would hurt their patients.

Not only is the AHCA a bad bill, it’s also extremely unpopular with the public. The New York Times reported this week on their analysis of each states’ perception of the bill and found that not a single state favors the AHCA.

The question is, will Republican senators vote yes on a bill this harmful and this unpopular?

# # #

To learn how you can get more involved in this effort, visit the NCCS Protect Our Care webpage. If you have any questions about advocacy, please contact Lindsay Houff at lhouff@canceradvocacy.org.


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