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Cancer Patients Struggling To Afford Care And Pay Bills In Troubled Economy, According To New Poll

While cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones are acutely aware of the gaps in the broken health care system, they are far less familiar with many of the provisions in the new law that will directly benefit them.  The survey found that 7 in 10 people with cancer or living with someone with cancer do not know that new insurance plans will be required to provide free cancer screenings, and 55 percent do not know that lifetime benefit limits will be banned.  More than half of respondents were not aware that prescription drug costs will be reduced in Medicare with the phase-out of the Part D "doughnut hole," and nearly two-thirds were unaware that the law creates a high-risk pool for uninsured people with a pre-existing condition.  Once they discovered that the law covers these and other provisions, no fewer than 8 in 10 poll respondents supported each one.

ACS CAN continues to be the leading voice of patients and is actively working to ensure that the law is applied as strongly as possible for cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. To that end, ACS CAN has specific implementation priorities that are critical to meaningfully improving the health care system for people with cancer:

High-Risk Pool – The new federal high-risk pool is meant to be a safety net for people who don't have other insurance options and are seen as high insurance risks because of pre-existing conditions such as cancer. For the high-risk pool to work for people with cancer, it must cover all necessary care and not create an undue financial strain on patients.  

State Health Benefit Exchanges – By 2014, people who cannot purchase insurance through their employers will be able to shop for coverage through a new insurance marketplace in their state called an exchange.  ACS CAN will monitor the creation of the new exchanges to ensure that the plans they offer cover necessary screenings, treatments and follow-up care for people with cancer.

Prevention – One goal of the new law is to transform the health care system to focus on keeping people well rather than treating people once they get sick.  ACS CAN, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, will work to ensure that all Americans have access to proven prevention measures at low- or no-cost.  

Medicaid – The federal/state program that previously provided health coverage to select groups such as low-income parents and the disabled will be expanded by 2014 to include all Americans under 65 who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.  ACS CAN is urging that the benefits offered address the needs of families affected by cancer, and that the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program continues to operate as a vital safety net for those without access to lifesaving cancer screenings.

The survey found that 89 percent of families affected by cancer feel investment in research to find better ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer should be a top national priority and nearly two-thirds of respondents say they are more likely to re-elect an elected official who advocated for more cancer research and prevention programs.

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