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Three Years Later, Full Implementation of Critical Patient Protections Just Months Away

Prevention and Dependent Coverage Provisions of Affordable Care Act Benefitting Families Affected by Cancer

March 22, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 22, 2013 – Three years after the Affordable Care Act went into effect, people with cancer or at risk for developing the disease are just months away from a ban on pre-existing condition exclusions that have been historically used to deny lifesaving coverage to people with cancer. The anniversary of the passage of the law this Saturday marks the countdown to broad implementation of critical patient protections that will increase access to affordable, meaningful health care for people with cancer and other chronic diseases beginning in January 2014.

“Barriers to health care coverage have hindered progress in the fight to reduce death and suffering from cancer for far too long,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. “Eliminating the ability to charge more or worse deny lifesaving care to cancer patients and survivors based on health history is a critical step toward making progress in a disease that is projected to kill more than 580,000 Americans this year.”

ACS CAN has been working at the federal and state level to ensure that provisions of the law that help cancer patients are protected and implemented effectively. If implemented correctly, consumers purchasing insurance on their own should be guaranteed a minimum standard of benefits regardless of where they live through the Essential Health Benefits Package, and have access to state health insurance exchanges where they can shop for affordable, adequate coverage options and select among plans that cannot discriminate based on one’s health history.

Earlier this year, ACS CAN released polling showing that registered voters in key states want their state to accept federal funds that are available to broaden access to health coverage through Medicaid, a move that would enable millions of currently uninsured people nationwide to get lifesaving preventive care and treatments for cancer and other serious diseases. Governors in the majority of states polled have since indicated their support for increasing access to care through the program.

Consumers are benefitting from key patient protections of the law such as those that:

• Eliminate annual and lifetime benefit limits that can cut off access to critical cancer care,
• Enable children with a history of chronic disease such as cancer to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26, 
• Refocus the health care system on disease prevention and early detection through the creation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund,
• Require insurers to provide consumers with brief, easy-to-understand information about their plan, and
• Provide rebates to seniors who hit the coverage gap or “doughnut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug program.

“Once critical provisions of the law are fully implemented, cancer patients and their loved ones will be able to focus on fighting their disease rather than wasting time fighting for meaningful, affordable coverage that was historically elusive,” said Christopher W. Hansen, president of ACS CAN.  “Families affected by cancer should feel confident their health plan will cover proven methods to prevent and treat cancer as well as to provide necessary follow-up care.”

Since the passage of the law, ACS CAN and the American Cancer Society have been educating the public about those provisions that directly benefit cancer patients and their families.  As part of this effort, the Society developed a consumer-friendly brochure: The Affordable Care Act: How it Helps People With Cancer and Their Families. The guide outlines how the new patient protections improve the quality and cost of health care for people with cancer and those at risk for cancer. It also clarifies some of the misunderstandings that still exist about the law. In addition, the guide highlights three real-world stories of people who exemplify how the law is meaningfully improving the health care system.

The guide is posted on both the Society’s and ACS CAN’s Web sites. Visit www.acscan.org/healthcare to access it.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Alissa Crispino or Steven Weiss
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Phone: 202-661-5772 or 202-661-5711
E-mail: Alissa.Crispino@cancer.org or Steve.Weiss@cancer.org

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For media inquiries, please contact:
Steve Weiss
Phone: (202) 661-5711
Email:

Alissa Crispino
Phone: (202) 661-5772
Email:

Lauren Walens
Phone: (202) 661-5763
Email:

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ACS CAN is the nation's leading cancer advocacy organization that is working every day to make cancer issues a national priority. More

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