Senate Healthcare Bill Is a Bad Deal for People With Cancer

LBBC Viewpoints
June 26, 2017
By: 
Jean A. Sachs, MSS, MLSP, Living Beyond Breast Cancer CEO; Catherine L. Ormerod, MSS, MLSP Vice President, Programs and Partnerships

This spring, Living Beyond Breast Cancer proudly joined 24 other nonprofits, representing more than 15 million people affected by cancer, in urging our members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote no on the American Health Care Act.

But that bill — intended to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ACA or Obamacare — passed, and moved on to the U.S. Senate. Now, our senators have unveiled a draft of their version of the bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. These bills are very similar, and for the same reasons we opposed the House bill, we oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

In our view, there are two key reasons this bill fails people with breast cancer:

  1. Less protection for people with preexisting conditions and serious illnesses

The Affordable Care Act bars insurers from refusing to insure you because of an existing health conditioninfo-icon, like cancer. They cannot put an annual limit on how much of your care they will cover. Importantly, all policies they sell must cover certain essential health benefits. These include some cancer treatments.

The Senate bill would let states choose to allow insurers to sell policies that place an annual limit on how much of your care they’ll pay for, and also allow policies that don’t cover essential health benefits, some or all. That means even if an insurer cannot refuse to sell you insurance, in some states they may be allowed to sell you only policies that don’t cover the cancer tests and treatments you need or that put a dollar limit on how much of your care they’ll pay for. If that happens, your insurance could be of little use to you. This doesn’t just affect plans sold on the Marketplace — it will change what insurance plans you get through your employer must cover, too.

  1. Cuts to Medicaidinfo-icon

Medicaid insures 20 percent, or 1 in 5, of all Americans — approximately 72.5 million people. It is a program run jointly by the federal government and individual states. Medicaid provides health insurance to Americans with low incomes, including people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of disability. Millions of people with cancer access health coverage under Medicaid. Among those are people living with early and metastaticinfo-icon (stageinfo-icon IV) cancer, who are in ongoing treatment for the rest of their lives. Others receive Medicaid because they were diagnosed with cancer and are no longer able to work.

The Senate bill proposes deep cuts to Medicaid. This may very well result in people with breast cancer losing their health insurance, or facing a limit on how much of their care Medicaid will pay for.

 

We at Living Beyond Breast Cancer believe all people affected by breast cancer have the right to affordable, quality health care. The Better Care Reconciliation Act will not get us closer to that goal. The Senate plans to vote on the bill this week. We encourage you to contact your senators right away and share your story. Ask them not to play politics with your life. Ask them not to wind back the clock. Ask them to protect your care by voting no on the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Please call the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship’s hotline TODAY to be connected to your senators: (844) 257-6227 and tell your senators to vote NO on the health care bill. Even if you’ve called before, please call again. Call EVERY DAY until the Senate votes, which is expected this week.

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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