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Cancer News You Need: Accessing Health Care, Managing Medical Debt, & More

Here is the latest news you need about laws and programs that may impact the cancer community, including health insurance options, medical debt, and paid sick leave.

Federal Updates

Do you receive health care through the VA?

  • The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) released a VA Health and Benefits mobile application. This app allows you to manage medical appointments, view insurance claims and appeals, message your medical team, locate facilities, and access the Veterans Crisis Line. You can also use the app to prove you are a veteran to get discounts at retail stores. For more information, read the VA’s blog.

How can we expand access to clinical trials?

  • NextGen Healthcare and Circuit Clinical, are partnering to improve access to clinical trials for patients who are getting care through a federally qualified health center.
  • Medable Inc. and CVS Health are partnering to expand clinical trial access for patients at select CVS MinuteClinic™ locations.
  • For more information about clinical trials, check out Triage Cancer’s clinical trials resources.

Do you have Cigna health insurance coverage?

  • Cigna will connect patients and their local oncologists with specialists at National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer centers. Through this service, experts from NCI centers will review patients’ treatment plans and diagnoses, and recommend testing, therapies, or clinical trial opportunities. This service will assist individuals diagnosed with lung, breast, colon, and other complex cancers.

How much has the No Surprises Act saved patients?

  • An estimated $2 million in medical bills in just the first two months of 2022! The act protects consumers by 1) mandating private health insurance cover out-of-network surprise bills and 2) preventing health care providers from billing patients more than in-network prices for those surprise medical bills.
  • For more information on the Act, read our blog, Surprised by a Medical Bill? Here’s What to Do.
  • For information on medical bills, read our Quick Guide to Managing Medical Bills.

State Updates

  • California expands access to their state Medicaid, Medi-Cal.
    • California residents, age 50 and older and who meet the income requirements, are now eligible for Medi-Cal benefits regardless of their immigration status. This extends to all adults beginning in 2024.
    • On July 1, 2022, it became significantly easier to access Medi-Cal for seniors and individuals with disabilities. The cap on an individual’s assets increased from $2,000 to $130,000.
  • North Carolina’s House of Representatives passed a bill to study Medicaid expansion in the state, and have a second vote in December 2022. Previously, the Senate had passed a bill to expand access to Medicaid. For more information on Medicaid, read our Quick Guide to Health Insurance Options.
  • North Carolina is considering the “Medical Debt De-Weaponizing Act,” which would require hospitals to offer free care to patients who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, and a sliding scale of coverage for those above. It also requires hospitals to provide payment plans for at least two years, caps annual out-of-pocket expenses, and caps interest on medical debt. If you are struggling with medical debt, see Triage Cancer’s resources on navigating finances.
  • Colorado will create a public health insurance option to be sold on the state’s health insurance marketplace, in 2023. The goal of the Colorado Option will be to lower premiums and the cost of services, including primary care, mental health care, and diabetes care. Other states, including Washington and Nevada, are waiting for approval from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to create similar options. For more information on Colorado Option, visit the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. You can also read our Quick Guide to Health Insurance Marketplaces.
  • In Georgia, starting January 1, 2023, you may be able to get free follow-up diagnostic breast imaging if a mammogram shows abnormalities. This may include an MRI, ultrasound, or diagnostic mammogram without any out-of-pocket expenses. Similar legislation is being worked on in California, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. If you live in one of these states and would like to advocate for the legislation, read our Quick Guide to Legislative Advocacy or watch our Webinar Engaging in Policy & Legislative Advocacy.
  • Ohio passed a law requiring insurance coverage for additional screenings for individuals who are at high risk for breast cancer, including those with dense breast tissue. The bill was signed on June 24, 2022, and will go into effect 90 days later.

Stay tuned for more news at the national and state level that may impact the cancer community.

About Triage Cancer

Triage Cancer is a national, nonprofit providing free education to people diagnosed with cancer, caregivers, and health care professionals on cancer-related legal and practical issues. Through events, materials, and resources, Triage Cancer is dedicated to helping people move beyond diagnosis.

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