This week, NCCS and other patient advocacy organizations met with Senate offices regarding health care reform. The groups explained that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as passed by the House is a serious threat, and does not in fact protect individuals with pre-existing conditions such as cancer.
As we reported recently, the MacArthur Amendment guts protections for pre-existing conditions by allowing states to opt out of community rating and essential health benefits—which would allow insurers to charge more based on an individual’s health status and provide fewer covered services. The bill also requires that individuals maintain continuous coverage or be penalized with a 30 percent increase on their premiums for a year. Combined with a 36% cut in tax credits to help low-income individuals pay for their plans, the AHCA works against patients who need access to quality and affordable health care the most.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is set to release an analysis next week that will provide an estimate on the economic impact of the updated House legislation. A previous CBO score on the bill reported numerous concerns, including that 24 million individuals would be left without insurance, older adults would be charged far more, and that costs would rise for millions.
Now that the House passed the AHCA and the bill is in the Senate, several Senate offices told NCCS that they intend to drastically change the bill or even start from scratch. We are hopeful that the Senate will reject the House version because it is terrible for patients, and it is now critical that Senators hear from patients and constituents. We must reach out and share that cancer patients and survivors must have meaningful health and financial protections, such as maintaining pre-existing condition protections, Medicaid expansion, and tax credits.
Health reform legislation should make it easier for patients to access health care—not create roadblocks and barriers resulting in care that is far less comprehensive yet much more expensive, as the AHCA would do if signed into law.
Call your Senators today and tell them patients deserve better than the AHCA and that the cancer community will not be fooled by legislation that undermines protections for pre-existing conditions such as the MacArthur Amendment. For tools and resources on how to contact your Members, download our policy tip sheet or contact Lindsay Houff, Public Policy Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.