The American Health Care Act: What would it mean for children with cancer?

We've been closely analyzing the components of the recently released GOP healthcare plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), including speaking with experts and evaluating the input from the larger medical and patient advocate community. 

In any healthcare debate, the Children's Cause evaluates proposals through the lens of children and families. Our healthcare goals align with our core mission: 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. 

Our Statement on the AHCA:

The American Health Care Act (AHCA), as passed by two House Committees (as of 3.13.17), 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.

If you share our concerns, we urge you to join us in reaching out to your Members of Congress about this bill. Visit our healthcare action page to send a letter using our form template:

AHCA Statements & Perspectives from Twitter:

Jessica Kean