CLC Urges Action on Health Care Reform
Dear Madam Speaker, Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader Boehner, and Minority Leader McConnell:
The undersigned cancer organizations, representing cancer patients and their families, caregivers, and researchers, urge you to work collaboratively and without delay for enactment of a health reform bill.
This year, 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and more than half a million will die from cancer. More than 10.5 million cancer survivors are living in the United States today. Nearly 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer during their lifetime. Cancer is a fact of life for millions of Americans and for millions more family members and caregivers.
From the moment of diagnosis, cancer patients have urgent health care needs. Cancer survivors and all Americans at risk for cancer require access to a health care system that provides high quality and affordable prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship care, a system that is possible if a reform bill is enacted.
In the current health care system, cancer patients often face serious obstacles to care. They may lose the insurance they have and become uninsurable in the future, all because of their cancer diagnosis. Even those with insurance may find that their care is unaffordable due to significant out-of-pocket costs and annual and lifetime coverage limits. This economic challenge becomes one of survival and quality of life, because cancer patients’ treatment outcomes are adversely affected by their insurance problems.
Health reform legislation holds promise for guaranteeing cancer patients access to quality care by restricting practices that prevent cancer patients from obtaining or retaining insurance, eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions, placing limits on out-of-pocket costs, and eliminating annual and lifetime caps.
The bill approved by Congress and signed into law should: 1) eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions and address other insurance practices that limit coverage due to health condition or diagnosis, 2) include protections from out-of-pocket costs that might hinder access to care, 3) eliminate cost-sharing requirements for prevention and screening services, 4) ensure payment for routine care costs for those enrolled in clinical trials, 5) advance delivery reforms through demonstration projects and pilot programs, and 6) retain a focus on patients and their care by including patients in advisory panels such as that charged with defining an essential benefit package.
We urge you to address the problems confronted by millions of cancer patients each year by promptly enacting a health reform bill that embodies the values and requirements discussed in this letter.
Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.
Cancer Leadership Council
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
cc: All Senators and Representatives
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