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 6/27: The Department of Justice (DoJ) determined that it will NOT defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the lawsuit filed by the state of Texas and several other states. (Read More here.) If the position of the DoJ is upheld by the courts, the pre-existing condition protections that are critically important to cancer patients will be eliminated.

On June 27, a number of NCCS CPAT advocates and others with pre-existing conditions participated in a press conference highlighting how vital these protections are for patients with chronic illness. Thank you to NCCS CPAT Members Randy Broad and Jamie Ledezma for sharing their story. Watch the press conference stream »


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

In order to bring you the latest cancer-related health care policy and news, we at NCCS combined our ACA Updates and What Caught Our Eye (WCOE) content into a weekly email and blog post. We aim to make this a concise, one-stop summary of what you need to know as we continue working together to make cancer care better for everyone.

Your feedback is always welcome to make our content more useful to you. Please send comments to feedback@canceradvocacy.org.

Subscribe to our email list and receive these updates in your email box each week »


HEALTH CARE HIGHLIGHTS

What the Midterm Elections Mean for Health Care

Technically, the midterm elections are behind us. However, with nearly 60 new Representatives ready to join Congress, NCCS continues to analyze the results and identify what opportunities and challenges may lie ahead for cancer care.

To start, with the House now in Democratic control, the threat of legislative repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is likely off the table after two years of repeated attempts to gut the law. At a news conference this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the possibility that Obamacare repeal will return to the legislative agenda, saying it is "very obvious" the Democrats would not be interested in repealing the law. He said Congress will now turn toward finding bipartisan solutions on the rising cost of prescription drugs.

However, while legislative repeal of the ACA is now unlikely, we anticipate continued attempts to chip away at the ACA through the regulatory process. As we reported just last week, the administration released new guidance that would allow states to sell junk insurance plans and permit ACA subsidies to pay for these plans. All indications point to the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be lenient in approving state waivers to further weaken and reduce access and affordability to patients in certain states.

Another result of the midterm elections was the expansion of Medicaid in Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska, giving health coverage to 325,000 people and bringing the total number of states to expand under the ACA to 37. Democrat Janet Mills won the governor’s seat in Maine, where Medicaid expansion passed on a ballot measure in 2017, only to be stalled because the current governor flatly refused to approve implementation. So that state is also expected to expand Medicaid.

Speaking of regulatory policy, this week HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to release a new mandatory Medicare payment model for cancer patients. The model will focus on radiation oncology, but no other details are known at this time. NCCS will continue to monitor this and keep you updated as the model rolls out.


CHART OF THE WEEK

Midterm exit polls: Health care is top issue for voters

NBC News

Exit polls on Tuesday showed that health care was the most important issue to voters in the midterm elections.


IMPORTANT READS

Midterms put the brakes on Republicans’ health care agenda—so what’s next?

MarketWatch

We saw candidates on both sides of the aisle campaign on protecting pre-existing conditions because health care and the ACA came in as the number one issue for voters in this election. Now that Democrats have control of the House, the ACA is no longer at threat of repeal by Congress.

Read More »

The new health care agenda: gridlock, lots of hearings

Axios

Axios provides a great overview of the election results and their impact on health care. In addition, they make predictions for the new Congress including a heavy dose of health care investigations and hearings, focused on regulations and waivers that undermine the ACA and Medicaid.

Read More »

Open enrollment is underway—here’s what consumers should know

Kaiser Family Foundation

Now that short-term health insurance policies, or junk plans, are available for consumers, it is important to know that these plans are not ACA-compliant and do not cover pre-existing conditions, essential health benefits, or other important patient protections. Kaiser Family Foundation shares a fact sheet on these short-term plans.

Read More »


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Health Care Roundup: ACA Open Enrollment News; Head and Neck Survivor Mental Health Study; Fear of Recurrence Webinar; More

Health Care Roundup: New Medicare Drug Pricing Proposal; New ACA Waiver Guidance; High Price of Precision Medicine; Midterms; More

In order to bring you the latest cancer-related health care policy and news, we at NCCS combined our ACA Updates and What Caught Our Eye (WCOE) content into a weekly email and blog post. We aim to make this a concise, one-stop summary of what you need to know as we continue working together to make cancer care better for everyone.

Your feedback is always welcome to make our content more useful to you. Please send comments to feedback@canceradvocacy.org.

Subscribe to our email list and receive these updates in your email box each week »


HEALTH CARE HIGHLIGHT

Open Enrollment for ACA Now Underway

Open enrollment for 2019 ACA plans began yesterday and will run through December 15, 2018. Despite numerous attempts to repeal the ACA in 2017 and an ongoing court case in Texas, the ACA continues ahead, business as usual, for the most part. Many Americans will qualify for financial help that lowers their monthly premiums to between $50 and $100. Tara Siegel Bernard reports in the New York Times:

After skyrocketing last year, premium prices in many places have stabilized, as insurers adjust overpriced policies and more competitors enter, or return, to the market. But what you pay will still vary greatly based on your income, location and plan level. Premiums for a benchmark ‘silver’ plan are expected to dip 1.5 percent on average after rising sharply for two years.

Premium prices could be even lower this year, had it not been for administrative and congressional actions nullifying the individual mandate and promoting short-term and association-based health plans. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis highlighted:

Among insurers that publicly quantify a rate impact from legislative and regulatory changes – effective repeal of the individual mandate penalty and/or expansion of more loosely regulated plans – the upward effect on 2019 premiums ranges from 0% to 16%.

Regardless of the policy or political implications, the bottom line is that cancer patients and survivors rely on access to quality and affordable health care. Right now, that coverage is accessible for many, if not most, through the Affordable Care Act. It is imperative that people sign up for coverage at healthcare.gov BEFORE December 15.

Healthcare.gov

Additional Information:


CHART OF THE WEEK

ACA’s Pre-Existing Condition Protections Find Bipartisan Support Ahead of Midterms

Morning Consult

This chart is quite revealing in the context of the Texas lawsuit to block the ACA and repeated Congressional attempts to repeal the ACA.


IMPORTANT READS

Survivors of Head and Neck Cancers Have an Elevated Risk for Suicide

AJMC.com

A recent study published in Cancer highlights the difficult survivorship issues thousands of patients with head and neck cancer must face. The authors highlight that these severe challenges cause HNC survivors to be “twice as likely to die by suicide that survivors of other cancers.” These are sobering statistics that will hopefully lead to more interventions and support services for HNC patients and survivors.

Read More »

Fear of Cancer Recurrence Webinar

NCCS

NCCS hosted recently a webinar entitled, “Understanding Fear of Cancer Recurrence.” Dr. Sarah Reed, MSW, MPH, PhD, at University of California, Davis, shared her insights and research on fear of recurrence and offered tips and strategies to help reduce the intense anxiety.

NCCS Webinar Video: “Understanding Fear of Cancer Recurrence”


Watch a recording of the webinar on our blog »

Studies Warn Against Minimally Invasive Surgery for Cervical Cancer

New York Times

Two new studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine are the first to provide insights into minimally invasive surgery versus an open abdominal operation for cervical cancer. Researchers found that minimally invasive surgery “was more likely to result in recurrence of the cancer and death.” The article highlights that the results are already changing medical practice, quoting a doctor at M.D. Anderson saying they’ve stopped doing minimally invasive procedures for cervical cancer.

Read More »

4 in 10 Believe Alternative Therapies Cure Cancer

WebMD

In the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s National Cancer Opinion Survey, 38 percent of respondents said they believe alternative therapies alone can cure cancer, despite evidence of higher mortality rates for people who use alternative therapies in lieu of standard cancer treatments.

Read More »


Related Posts

Health Care Roundup: New Medicare Drug Pricing Proposal; New ACA Waiver Guidance; High Price of Precision Medicine; Midterms; More

Health Care Roundup: Drug Pricing in TV Ads; Even with Insurance, Serious Illness Can Mean Financial Distress; Fertility in Young Survivors; More

In order to bring you the latest cancer-related health care policy and news, we at NCCS combined our ACA Updates and What Caught Our Eye (WCOE) content into a weekly email and blog post. We aim to make this a concise, one-stop summary of what you need to know as we continue working together to make cancer care better for everyone.

Your feedback is always welcome to make our content more useful to you. Please send comments to feedback@canceradvocacy.org.

Subscribe to our email list and receive these updates in your email box each week »


HEALTH CARE HIGHLIGHTS

A Week of Proposals and New Regulations

This week, there were several regulations and proposals announced by the Trump Administration that would impact health care in the U.S.

The announcement that made the biggest splash was revealed yesterday and would require drugs administered by physicians and paid for by Medicare, known as Part B drugs, to be priced based on the prices paid in other advanced industrial nations. The proposal announcement came hours after a report was released by HHS that compares prices charged by drug companies in the U.S. with prices they charge in other countries. “Overall, prices and reimbursement rates for Part B drugs are significantly higher for U.S. providers than purchasers outside the U.S,” the report said. NCCS is analyzing the proposal to understand how it would affect patients’ out-of-pocket expenses and access to care.

Aspects of the proposal were drawn from a similar Obama-era proposal and it comes less than a week after another drug pricing proposal was announced that would require drug makers to include the price of drugs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) television advertisements. Read NCCS’ statement on the DTC advertising proposal here.


(Click to view full-size)

New CMS Guidance Threatens Pre-Existing Condition Protections

On Tuesday, CMS released new guidance that significantly alters the standards that states must meet in order to be granted a waiver from certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements. The Trump administration would permit states to revise the rules of their health insurance markets significantly, including to authorize the use of ACA premium subsidies for short-term insurance plans and association health plans that do not meet ACA benefit standards.

Although the administration maintains that the guidance will still require states to adhere to the guardrails of the ACA that relate to comprehensiveness of coverage, affordability of coverage, and the number of individuals insured, in practice the guidance will bifurcate the insurance markets and deny people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable and adequate insurance options. Healthier Americans will likely choose less expensive insurance options, including short-term plans and association health plans, especially if they can use premium subsidies for their purchase.

Cancer patients will be especially hard-hit if they are left in an insurance market that includes only older and sicker consumers. In response, NCCS joined more than 25 patient and consumer groups in a statement urging CMS to withdraw this guidance.


IMPORTANT READS

High price of precision medicine forces cancer patients to make agonizing choices

USA Today

We find ourselves in the early stages of new cancer treatments, including precision medicine and immunotherapies. While these new treatments offer hope to many patients, being on the frontline of innovation certainly comes with risks, including physical and financial. This article highlights the difficult choices patients must make, especially now until these new treatments are adopted by insurance companies as standard treatment.

“Precision medicine is one of the most celebrated areas in cancer research. But the high cost of cutting-edge tests and treatments is threatening to keep it out of reach for many patients.”

Read More »

In Days Of Data Galore, Patients Have Trouble Getting Own Medical Records

Kaiser Health News

This article is a great reminder that patients have the right to obtain their own medical records. However, despite the law, it continues to be difficult for patients as the study in the article highlights. This is particularly relevant for cancer patients, who need access to their medical records to obtain second opinions and are often tasked with coordinating their own care.

Notably, only 53 percent of hospitals’ forms indicated patients could get their complete records. This right was acknowledged in all the phone calls. Forty-three percent of hospital forms didn’t disclose the estimated cost of obtaining records, as required. In phone calls, all but one hospital disclosed costs, but 59 percent cited a higher-than-government-recommended fee for electronic records.

Read More »

Trump's drug plan falls flat in health care messaging war

By Dan Diamond, Politico

In races across the country, Democrats continue to focus on health care. As the article points out, “Democrats had an 18 point advantage among voters on health care compared to Republicans, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll.”

“President Donald Trump tried Thursday to make good on a campaign vow to lower drug prices — attacking ‘foreign freeloaders’ and proposing significant changes to how Medicare pays for many drugs. But his populist proposal didn’t appear likely to budge the national debate around health care, just days ahead of the midterm elections.”

Read More »

The Role Health Is and Is Not Playing in the Midterms

By Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation

While health care is getting a lot of attention leading up to midterms, it is not a single issue voters base their decisions on generally speaking.

Health care has achieved top billing in the midterms. It’s the top issue for Democrats and independents, not Republicans, but that’s been more than enough to propel health to the top of the issue list in national polls, even ahead of the economy and jobs, a rare status for health care. …But, the punditocracy and the media have also exaggerated the role health is playing in the midterms. As the table below shows, the top issue is not the same thing as the top factor driving the vote.

That said, the article points out what is at stake concerning health care policy moving forward depending on the results of these elections.

Read More »


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Rule Will Likely Result in Comprehensive Coverage Becoming Unaffordable for Patients; Leave Many Uncovered

Washington, D.C., October 26, 2018— U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon is expected to hear oral arguments today in Washington, D.C., from groups challenging a rule implementing changes to short-term, limited-duration (STLD) insurance plans. The hearing in the case Association for Community Affiliated Plans v. United States Department of Treasury will allow the plaintiffs to explain the devastating impact patients could face under the rule if bare-bones plans that do not comply with patient protections required by the Affordable Care Act are permitted to be sold on the individual insurance market for up to 36 months.

“Splitting the market will drive costs up for those with serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease and lung disease who need coverage that includes recommended prevention, treatment and follow-up care.”
These short-term plans can deny or charge people more for coverage based on their health status, and are exempt from covering essential health services. The plans can also charge older people more than three times what they charge a younger person for the same coverage.

Patient groups representing millions of Americans with serious health conditions filed an amicus curiae (or friend-of-the-court) brief on October 8 in the case. Those groups include the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Global Healthy Living Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, March of Dimes, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

A joint statement from the groups follows:

“The rule effectively allows short-term limited-duration (STLD) plans to serve as replacements for comprehensive coverage in violation of current law. Allowing these plans to exist in contradiction to their intended use as stated in their name—‘short-term’—could siphon off younger and healthier consumers and destabilize the insurance market. Those who need comprehensive coverage will be forced to pay drastically higher premiums or go without insurance.

“Splitting the market will drive costs up for those with serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease and lung disease who need coverage that includes recommended prevention, treatment and follow-up care. The very population the law is designed to protect could again face barriers to quality health coverage at a cost they can afford—a common occurrence before the law was passed that kept many patients from getting critical care.

“The evidence is clear that individuals who are uninsured and underinsured are diagnosed later and face poorer outcomes. Many individuals with short-term, limited-duration insurance who become sick will again be unable to afford the care needed to respond to a life-threatening or life-changing diagnosis, and will be forced to delay treatment for the months it may take to secure adequate coverage.

“Because of the overwhelming risks to patients and the proven flaws with these plans, we urge the court to issue an injunction immediately stopping the rule and preserving current limits on STLD plans.”

To read the full amicus brief filed by the public health groups, visit: https://bit.ly/2OPxz9k.

# # #

Related Posts

NCCS Joins 11 Organizations in Filing Amicus Curiae Brief Supporting Lawsuit Challenging Short-Term Health Plans

NCCS Concerned About New CMS Guidance on 1332 Waiver Process

Coalition, Including NCCS, Urges CMS to Withdraw Guidance Threatening Millions of Americans Who Have Pre-Existing Conditions

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Silver Spring, MD – The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) is extremely concerned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) new guidance document that significantly alters the standards that states must meet in order to be granted a waiver from certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements. The Trump administration would permit states to revise the rules of their health insurance markets significantly, including to authorize the use of ACA premium subsidies for short-term insurance plans and association health plans that do not meet ACA benefit standards.

Although the administration maintains that the guidance will still require states to adhere to the guardrails of the ACA that relate to comprehensiveness of coverage, affordability of coverage, and the number of individuals insured, in practice the guidance will bifurcate the insurance markets and deny people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable and adequate insurance options. Healthier Americans will likely choose less expensive insurance options, including short-term plans and association health plans, especially if they may use premium subsidies for their purchase. Cancer patients will be especially hard-hit if they are left in an insurance market that includes only older and sicker consumers.

“This new guiding document is another considerable step backward as it echoes many of the same ACA repeal ideas that have been rejected over the last two years,” said Shelley Fuld Nasso, NCCS CEO. “Now, the Trump administration is taking another route to strip patient protections and offer skimpy health insurance. If adopted, these policies would take us back to the days when health plans didn’t have to cover pre-existing conditions or coverage for basic services like prescription drugs and hospital visits.”

“The Administration calls the new program the ‘State Relief and Empowerment Waiver,’” continued Ms. Nasso. “The new program could not be more inaccurately named, as it fails completely in providing patients relief and empowerment in their pursuit of quality and affordable health insurance.”

CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated that the agency plans to release a series of “wavier concepts” to give states a sense of the kinds of plans they might approve, including a waiver to permit the use of subsidy dollars to help people buy short-term health plans under a 1332 waiver. NCCS recently joined 11 other patient groups in filing an amicus brief challenging short-term health plans, as they would threaten access to adequate and affordable health insurance for people with cancer.

# # #

Related Posts

NCCS Joins 11 Organizations in Filing Amicus Curiae Brief Supporting Lawsuit Challenging Short-Term Health Plans

NCCS Statement on HHS Final Rule for Short-Term, Limited Duration Health Plans

In order to bring you the latest cancer-related health care policy and news, we at NCCS combined our ACA Updates and What Caught Our Eye (WCOE) content into a weekly email and blog post. We aim to make this a concise, one-stop summary of what you need to know as we continue working together to make cancer care better for everyone.

Your feedback is always welcome to make our content more useful to you. Please send comments to feedback@canceradvocacy.org.

Subscribe to our email list and receive these updates in your email box each week »


HEALTH CARE HIGHLIGHT

HHS Proposes Rule Requiring Drug Pricing in TV Ads

On Monday, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced that HHS introduced a proposed rule to require direct-to-consumer television advertisements for prescription drugs include pricing information. According to the proposed rule, drugs paid for by Medicare or Medicaid must include the list price of the drug if it costs more than $35 for a month’s supply or the usual course of therapy.

Kaiser Health News reports that while this proposal is being endorsed by some groups for attempting to improve transparency, it is criticized by many others for not doing anything to drive down the actual cost of drugs. Further, many patient advocates, including NCCS, fear the new requirements could be confusing for patients due to vast differences in patients’ insurance plans and pharmacy benefits. There is also concern that this approach might inflict sticker shock to patients, especially cancer patients, and they may avoid talking to their care team about a treatment or cause them to avoid a certain treatment all together.


CHART OF THE WEEK

1,495 Americans Describe the Financial Reality of Being Really Sick

The New York Times


IMPORTANT READS

States Act to Safeguard Young Cancer Patients’ Chances to Have Children

Via Kaiser Health News

Many young adult cancer survivors are faced with the challenge of making some difficult choices in fertility preservation before starting treatment. Slowly, state by state, we are seeing some progress to include this benefit in insurance plans.

Read More »

Hiding My Cancer Under the Hijab

Via New York Times Well Blog

Saema Khandaker, a cancer survivor and physician, writes a beautiful essay on the intersection of being a cancer patient and identity.

Read More »

Cartoons Offer a Peek into Cancer Immunotherapy—and Scientists’ Minds

Via STAT News

Check out the collection of cartoons that author Neil Canavan has collected over the past two years from scientists illustrating cancer immunotherapy.

Read More »

Republicans Are Suddenly Running Ads on Pre-existing Conditions. But How Accurate Are They?

Via New York Times Upshot

Pre-existing conditions protections are critical for cancer survivors and for the past two years, these protections and the ACA have been continuously threatened. As the midterm elections approach, more and more candidates on both sides of the aisle are pledging to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, but not all of their records indicate they would follow through on their rhetoric and actually preserve these protections. Check out this article on candidates and their legislative record on pre-existing condition protections.

Read More »

Widening Divide Between Medicaid Expansion and Non-Expansion States

Via Protect Our Care

As the fight for Medicaid Expansion lives on in several states, the release of a new U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report reinforces what many already know—that people in states that have not expanded Medicaid have compromised access to health care.

The new GAO report is not only a call to action for states that haven’t expanded Medicaid yet, it’s a call for change in leadership. Medicaid expansion is front and center in many competitive governor’s races around the country, and this report shows why: Your ability to access medical care when you need it shouldn’t depend on who you are, how much money you make or what your ZIP code is, but unfortunately that’s the reality for far too many Americans living in states that refuse to expand Medicaid.

Read More »


Related Posts

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Health Care Roundup: Medicare ‘Step Therapy’ Concerns; Alternative Cancer Treatment Risks; Immunotherapy Scientists Win Nobel Prize; More

In order to bring you the latest cancer-related health care policy and news, we at NCCS combined our ACA Updates and What Caught Our Eye (WCOE) content into a weekly email and blog post. We aim to make this a concise, one-stop summary of what you need to know as we continue working together to make cancer care better for everyone.

Your feedback is always welcome to make our content more useful to you. Please send comments to feedback@canceradvocacy.org.

Subscribe to our email list and receive these updates in your email box each week »


HEALTH CARE HIGHLIGHTS

NCCS & Patient Orgs Push Back on Short-term Plans

Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would allow insurers to offer expanded short-term, limited duration plans, known as “junk insurance.” This action led NCCS to join several other national organizations in filing an amicus curiae brief in support of a lawsuit that challenges the regulation authorizing short-term health insurance plans. The amicus brief explains to the court the potentially devastating impact of short-term health insurance plans on people with cancer and other Americans with serious and chronic diseases. Short term plans do not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) patient protections, including protections for pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits.

In addition to legal action on the short-term plans, there was also legislative action in Congress. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats forced a vote on a resolution that would reject the new CMS rule to allow short-term, limited duration plans. Despite Republican Senator Susan Collins voting in favor of the resolution, it failed to pass. As Kaiser Health News reports, the vote wasn’t a complete loss for Democrats as it forced Republicans to vote to protect health plans that don’t include the ACA’s patient protections, just a month before the midterm elections.

NCCS State-Based Cancer Advocacy Page

NCCS this week launched its first state advocacy webpage that hosts a plethora of resources for advocates who are interested in making an impact at the state and local level to improve cancer care and outcomes. The webpage features an NCCS webinar on state cancer coalitions, an advocacy toolkit, and state-specific resources for your advocacy efforts.

State comprehensive cancer coalitions are funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are made up of community stakeholders, including patient advocates. NCCS is a National Partner for the CDC’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program and will assist state coalitions in their development of cancer control plans. Check out our state advocacy webpage to learn how you can get involved in state policy and contact Lindsay Houff at lhouff@canceradvocacy.org if you have any questions.


CHART OF THE WEEK

What Is Your State Doing to Affect Access to Adequate Health Insurance?

The Commonwealth Fund

With ongoing uncertainty at the federal level about the ACA and patient protections, some states are taking matters into their own hands. Visit this site to see if and how your state may be engaged to impact access to adequate health insurance.


IMPORTANT READS

ACA Premiums to Go Down

Via Washington Post

For the first time since the ACA was signed into law, insurance premiums for benchmark plans, which are used as a measure of the individual market’s success, are going to drop by 1.5% for 2019. Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation says the reason is likely due to the Trump Administration’s decisions to abolish ACA subsidies and repeal the individual mandate, causing insurers to over-price coverage. “The overwhelming reason average benchmark premiums are coming down in 2019 is because premiums went up by so much in 2018,” said Levitt.

Read More »

No More Secrets: Congress Bans Pharmacist 'Gag Orders' On Drug Prices

Via Kaiser Health News

On Wednesday, President Trump signed two bills that would ban gag clauses that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers that paying for their drugs with cash, rather than using their health insurance, could save them money. The bipartisan bill is a step forward to improve transparency in drug pricing. Several states adopted gag clause bans on their own, but this bill would eliminate the gag clauses across the U.S.

When Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) went to a Michigan pharmacy to pick up a prescription recently, she was told it would cost $1,300. “After you peeled me off the ceiling, I called the doctor and screamed and talked to the pharmacist,” she recalled during a hearing last month. “I’m much more aggressive than many in asking questions,” she admitted, and ended up saving $1,260 after she learned she could get an equivalent drug for $40.

Read More »

What Cancer Survivors Wish Others Understand

Barbara Tako, CURE Magazine

A poignant article by Barbara Tako, a breast cancer and melanoma survivor. As she points out, “Cancer took my smile away, but only for a while. Helping others understand what a cancer diagnosis is like will help improve the experience for everyone.”

Read More »


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