ACS CAN Urges Gov. Justice to Oppose Graham-Cassidy Repeal Bill, Support Continued Bipartisan Efforts to Stabilize Health Care Markets

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Sept. 19, 2017— Today, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) sent a letter to Gov. Jim Justice, calling on him to oppose a new proposal to repeal and replace the current health care law offered by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). The letter calls on the governor to instead support the bipartisan efforts spearheaded by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and by Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in the Senate Finance Committee. These efforts, focused on market stabilization and other critical issues, represent a promising first step toward addressing the nation’s health care challenges.

In the letter, ACS CAN President Chris Hansen writes, “As drafted, the Graham-Cassidy legislation would end Medicaid expansion completely and place a per-capita cap on traditional Medicaid, remove funding protections for children and disabled Americans and impose a dramatic reduction in Medicaid support to states over the next decade and beyond.

Medicaid is the critical health insurance safety-net that provided health care coverage to , including children, pregnant women, families, seniors and individuals with disabilities. Out of that number, West Virginians gained lifesaving health care coverage because the state expanded its Medicaid program. Currently, residents (infants to age 64) with a history of cancer rely on Medicaid for their health coverage, and children (infant to age 19) with a history of cancer are currently covered by Medicaid in the state.

The proposed Graham-Cassidy block grant (which would include both the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion populations) and Medicaid per capita cap (which would affect the traditional Medicaid population) would cut federal funding to West Virginia by approximately $554 million in 2026.

The letter goes on to note, “In addition, the bill eliminates the marketplace premium subsidies and cost sharing subsidies, effectively shutting down the individual insurance marketplace. Finally, the bill would roll back important essential health benefit protections and potentially open the door to annual and lifetime caps on coverage, endangering access to critical care for millions of Americans.”

As written, the Graham-Cassidy legislation would eliminate existing premium tax credits that West Virginians use to buy insurance in the private market. As of January 31, 2017, 34,045 West Virginians were enrolled in a Marketplace insurance plan, and 24.9 percent of these were new enrollees. A total of 28,640 (84.1 percent) qualified for tax credits, and the average monthly tax credit was $559. In addition, 16,872 (49.6 percent) qualified for plans with reduced cost-sharing.

Under the proposal, cancer patients and survivors could lose federal protections against discrimination and higher insurance costs. The legislation could also cause cancer patients to lose access to guaranteed essential health benefits, such as cancer screenings.

The letter continues, “Accordingly, we are urging senators to oppose the legislation because it completely fails to protect cancer patients and millions of other Americans who would lose their coverage and access to affordable health care.”

In the letter, ACS CAN also lauds the current bipartisan efforts underway in the Senate focused on stabilizing the health care markets and asks the governor to urge his state’s senators “to support this important bipartisan effort, and to oppose the extreme repeal bill now being advanced by Senators Graham and Cassidy.”

The letter to the governor concludes, “ACS CAN stands ready to work with both sides of the aisle to build long-lasting bipartisan solutions both now and in the future.”

For a copy of the full letter please visit: https://www.acscan.org/news/acs-can-urges-gov-justice-oppose-graham-cassidy-repeal-bill

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit http://www.acscan.org/

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