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Cancer Patients Would Face Higher Costs & Fewer Options

Rye Brook, N.Y. (July 26, 2017) – The U.S. Senate has initiated debate on the House-passed healthcare bill, and Senate leaders are indicating they intend to advance legislation they have termed ‘skinny repeal.’ This Senate proposal would increase premiums and cost-sharing for patients who purchase their own insurance plans, while leading some insurers to stop selling non-group coverage altogether, according to an analysis by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).

Below is a statement from Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and chief executive officer:

Cancer patients need Congress to lower the financial barriers to cancer care, but the latest ‘skinny repeal’ proposal pushes these barriers even higher. The Senate’s ‘skinny repeal’ proposal would leave many cancer patients with fewer, if any, insurance options and increase the cost of treatment for patients struggling to afford their current premiums and deductibles.

The ‘skinny repeal’ proposal would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual and employer mandates without any replacement policy – a change that would increase instability for insurers and lead to dramatic changes in many insurance risk pools. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that patients would see their premiums increase by 20 percent under this policy. Beyond this increase in premiums, we know that insurers often manage this type of instability by narrowing their networks of physicians and hospitals and limiting access to costly services like cancer care. When Washington State made this same policy change years ago, all 19 insurers who had sold individual coverage abandoned the market. With the stakes so high, cancer patients can’t afford for Congress to replicate this failed experiment at the federal level.

Recently, we outlined to Congress our core principles for meaningful coverage: guarantee access, promote affordability, ensure quality and encourage stability. Unfortunately, rather than advancing these principles, each of the repeal options being debated on the Senate floor would put lifesaving care further out of reach of cancer patients. We are unapologetically a ‘patients first’ organization, and it is time for policy changes that address the many obstacles patients face today. There are bipartisan, proven solutions that will break down barriers for cancer patients, and we urge policymakers to work with us to advance them.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

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