The American Health Care Act
March 2017 -- CCCA continues to evaluate the ongoing health care reform debate to determine if any changes meet the goals organization has for children and families: to increase access to more effective therapies; to expand resources for childhood cancer research, and to address the needs and challenges of childhood cancer survivors. The American Health Care Act (AHCA), as passed by two House Committees, retains two critical childhood cancer protections -- prohibiting insurers from charging more based on health status and prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions. However, the bill as a whole will shift health insurance costs to low and middle-income patients and families, significantly reduce the standards for quality insurance, curtail the Medicaid expansion and - over time - substantially reduce overall Medicaid funding.
Cancer is the leading disease-related cause of death for children aged 1- 19, with almost 15,000 children diagnosed each year. By 2020, there will be at least 500,000 childhood cancer survivors in the U.S. with serious long-term effects of their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Significantly, some 30 percent of childhood cancer patients are covered by Medicaid at the time of diagnosis.
The AHCA would change the income-based subsidy to a flat tax credit and impose late enrollment penalties for individuals who do not stay continuously covered. This is a significant issue for young pediatric cancer survivors. It would also change the structure of the more flexible Medicaid program by converting federal Medicaid funding to a per capita allotment. It will freeze the enhanced federal match for Medicaid expansion currently used by many states, thereby making improvements for new treatment options potentially inaccessible.
The AHCA would remove critical financial protections for families facing the crisis of a childhood cancer diagnosis. Cancer survivors who receive tax credits will also lose financial protections. The AHCA proposal would alter current federal guarantees of Medicaid benefits and eligibility, threatening access to care for children with cancer. Maintaining current Medicaid coverage and adequately funding state programs are critical to providing children with cancer and childhood cancer survivors life saving and enhancing treatments. The Children’s Cause believes the American Health Care Act poses significant risks to the access, treatment and care of children with cancer and survivors.
February 2016 -- We applaud the National Moonshot Initiative, announced in January 2016, which aims to accelerate research efforts, break down barriers, and encourage more collaborations with researchers, doctors, patients, and pharmaceutical companies. The goal is to to bring about a decade’s worth of advances in five years, and the Administration is targeting $1 billion to jump-start the project.
For childhood cancer, the initiative is focusing on new technology to develop drug libraries and screens to create new, less toxic therapies, which are especially important to pediatric patients. It promises to collect and analyze tumor specimens from the rarest childhood cancers, enlisting the help of the pediatric oncology community. And it intends to research the course of disease and response to therapy to address long-term issues.
Mandatory Vaccine Legislation
July 2015 -- The Children's Cause for Cancer Advocacy applauds state lawmakers in California for passing Senate Bill 277 that requires all children attending public or private school in California be fully vaccinated. We thank Gov. Jerry Brown for signing the legislation into law, making California the third state in the nation to ban non-medical exemptions for immunizations.
“Enacting stronger vaccination policies should be a priority for every state in the nation. This issue hits close to home for families of children with cancer, since immuno-compromised children rely on the strength of ‘community immunity’ to keep them safe,” said Susan L. Weiner, PhD, president and founder of the Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy. “A family battling pediatric cancer faces many unavoidable health challenges, but they should never have the life of their child threatened by a disease that could have been prevented if only their peers had been appropriately vaccinated.”
We join the American Medical Association and other stewards of public health in urging other states to follow California’s lead and enact similar legislation in order to protect and defend our most medically vulnerable citizens, especially children with cancer.
ON KING V. BURWELL:
June 2015 -- The Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy applauds the decision of the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell affirming the availability of premium subsidies for consumers in all insurance exchanges. Survivors of childhood cancer are among the 6.5 million Americans who have purchased insurance in the federal marketplace with the assistance of premium subsidies. The Supreme Court decision upholding those subsidies eliminates cancer survivors’ fears that they might lose insurance coverage.
In an opinion for the 6-3 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.” We urge state and federal policymakers to realize the full potential of the Affordable Care Act and its insurance marketplaces.