Now what? Focus on the fix

The senate did not pass changes to the Affordable Care Act that would have negatively impacted breast cancer patients.  But what happens now?  

“Most everyone in the health-care field agrees that the Affordable Health Care act is not perfect and still needs to be improved,” said Laura Farmer Sherman, President and CEO of Susan G. Komen San Diego.  “But repealing the law that currently exists without coming up with workable solutions is not acceptable.” 

Here’s what the Susan G. Komen movement believes and what we are trying to protect in this healthcare debate:     

  1. Ensure women have access to a free mammogram or ultrasound every year;

  2. Ensure that there are no “caps” on how much insurance companies will cover over a lifetime for cancer patients;

  3. Ensure pre-existing conditions – like breast cancer – are not used a weapon against patients resulting in sky rocketing medical costs – or no access to insurance at all.

At the same time, we need to find answers to problems like high premiums, unaffordable deductibles and the lack of choices for patients.

Economists, insurers, doctors and health policy experts across the Country agree that immediately addressing three or four basic shortcomings in the existing system would go a long way toward making the law more effective and financially stable.

  1. Stabilize the insurance market:

    Insurance companies are worried because they don’t know what will happen next.  Imagine trying to run a business and you’re not sure what the law will be?  Health care professionals agree that the insurance market needs to be stabilized.  And time is of the essence.  In August, insurers must decide what they charge for 2018 or whether they want to stay in the marketplaces at all.  The most significant step would be to guarantee continued funding to reimburse insurers for waiving deductibles and co-payments for low-income customers, as the health law requires companies to do.

  2. Reduce costs/increase choice:

    According to the New York Times, Mark Dalessandro, an adjunct professor at a community college in Tucson, saw his out-of-pocket expenses for the asthma medication Advair jump to $292 per month this year from $50 per month last year, after he was forced to switch plans because his insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, left the market in his area. He said he had little choice but to pay for it. “For just a month’s supply, for something that helps me breathe, what are you going to do?” he said.  The answer is not to take it out on the patient.  Government needs to focus on reducing the costs of drugs – and increasing choice in the marketplace.

  3. Expand access for the working poor:

    Although the Affordable Care Act has greatly expanded access to coverage — the nation’s uninsured rate fell to 10.9 percent last year, according to Gallup, from 17.1 percent in late 2013 — many Americans remain shut out. One of the biggest reasons is the refusal of 19 states to expand Medicaid to virtually all low-income citizens, as the law’s authors intended. Some may be reconsidering this now that repeal of the health law seems unlikely.

Look to us for further updates.  If you have any questions or concerns, email Laura@sdkomen.org