What Does the AHCA Mean for Children with Cancer?

Our Response to the House Passage of the

American Health Care Act

For the children who have gone through a traumatic and costly cancer journey, the health care bill passed by the House of Representatives yesterday creates added fear and anxiety.

  • Cancer treatment - at any age - constitutes a pre-existing condition, which will endure for the rest of a person's life. This legislation would mean that an insurance company can deny health care coverage for a family or survivor. An insurance company could also charge a family or a survivor any amount it chooses -- with the excuse that treatment and care costs more for a survivor than for someone without a cancer history.
  • Under this legislation, there would be no limit to how much healthcare would cost a child in their lifetime. Children with cancer and survivors experience short-term and lifelong health and psychosocial impacts from cancer and its treatment. If, for example, a child develops a second cancer, heart disease, or lung problems as a late effect of their treatment, an insurance company can charge an unlimited amount for their care.

Yesterday's bill passed with some nominal funding for "high risk pools" to cover costs for higher risk individuals. But high risk pools have been tried in the past -- and failed miserably because of waiting lists and limited funding available to cover the high costs of care. Under this legislation, childhood cancer survivors would be relegated to these pools, where - if they can even get in - insurance would cost substantially more and coverage would be substantially less.

  • Medicaid programs cover up to a third of childhood cancer patients. The cuts envisioned for the Medicaid program at the state level would put middle-income and poor families at substantial risk of going into debt to sustain their children's treatment and care or - worse - foregoing necessary treatment altogether.
  • By 2020, there will be 500,000 childhood cancer survivors in this country and more each year. They will require monitoring and medical care for decades. This House legislation targets them for increased personal cost and sacrifice for the rest of their lives.

As the Senate begins debate on a health reform bill, the Children's Cause is asking families and survivors to make their voices heard loud and clear. Tell your Senators that childhood cancer patients and survivors deserve assured access to affordable health coverage.

Please write your Senators using our action alert (now targeted specifically at the Senate) -- and then call their offices, send them tweets, and share share SHARE. To stay informed and engaged, join our frontline defense team, the Kids Action Network.

Thank you for being an advocate for our kids.