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LLS Races to Get Faster Care for Children with Cancer with Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care Act

By Brianna Wilson, Director of Advocacy Communications at LLS | March 07, 2024
Volunteer advocates walking in Congressional building

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is dedicated to helping find cures for pediatric blood cancers. But we—and pediatric families across the country—know all too well that even the best treatments are ineffective if the patients who need them most are not able to access them.

That’s why LLS is currently championing the bipartisan Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care Act (AKACA), a bill that would reduce the paperwork required of doctors treating children from out-of-state—and get children the care they need faster, without delays.

Unfortunately, when kids with cancer need specialized care, they often must travel outside their home state. But doing so can require bureaucratic steps that cause dangerous delays in treatment. That’s especially true for the 50% of kids covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“This legislation will be a lifeline for families across the country facing childhood cancer,” said E. Anders Kolb, MD, President and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “By streamlining the Medicaid provider screening and enrollment process, we'll spare families the anguish of needless treatment delays at a time when every day counts.”

LLS has been championing the legislation since 2021—and our efforts are paying off. Last week, the bill received a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. Securing a hearing—where lawmakers debate the bill and hear from experts about its merits—is a key step to helping the bill become a law.

During the hearing, Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks—one of the bill’s sponsors— shared an LLS-led community support letter, demonstrating that 215 organizations endorse the bill. Dr. Alex Bassuk, MD, PhD, physician-in-Chief for University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital shared more about how patients and families are negatively impacted by the status quo.  

LLS has utilized several other tactics to promote AKACA, including:

  • Helping secure leading lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce the bill.
  • Hosting three in-person events—2023 spring lobby day, the Dare to Dream Summit, and the Alliance for Childhood Cancer Action Days—where attendees have urged lawmakers to co-sponsor the legislation. To date, the bill has 72 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 in the Senate.
  • Sending action alerts to patient advocates so that they can contact their representatives quickly and solicit cosponsors. So far, advocates have sent thousands of letters to their representatives about this key legislation.

How you can help

  • Sign up to become an LLS advocate here, and we’ll let you know when we need you to send an important message to your members of Congress about access to pediatric cancer care or other issues that impact blood cancer patients.
  • Learn more about how LLS’s Office of Public Policy is supporting The Dare to Dream Project and tackling childhood cancer. Our childhood cancer brief identifies four major challenges in pediatric cancer and shares how LLS is working to combat each one.