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Cancer News You Need: Coverage for Free Preventative Services Challenged, Medicaid Expansion, Paid Family Leave and more

Here is the latest news you need about laws and programs that may impact the cancer community, including changes to health insurance coverage, Medicaid, and taking time off of work.

National Updates

  • Free preventative services required by the Affordable Care Act may be in danger. A federal judge struck down the ACA’s requirement that private insurance companies provide free preventative services. Preventative services include cancer screenings for colorectal, lung, and breast cancer. The Biden Administration has appealed this decision. But, if it is upheld, insurance companies will be allowed to charge you co-pays and coinsurance costs for preventative services.
  • More people with disabilities will have access to ABLE Accounts. ABLE accounts provide an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to open a savings account, and have more than $2,000 in savings, without the risk of losing their Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid benefits. However, individuals only qualify for an ABLE account if their disability began before they turned 26. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act, expands the age to 46. Want to learn more about how an ABLE Account might help you or a family member? Read Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Crowdfunding.
  • The Senate is considering a bill that would improve access to prescription drugs by limiting the use of “step therapy.” Step therapy requires patients to try lower-cost drugs before “stepping up” to another, more expensive, drug. This can prevent individuals from accessing preferred treatment options, or delay needed treatment. Interested in learning more? Read about the Safe Step Act here.

State Updates

  • Updates on Medicaid Expansion:
    • North Carolina’s Governor signed a Medicaid expansion law. North Carolina will expand Medicaid, as long as the 2023-2024 budget passes. If expansion goes into place, individuals will be able to receive Medicaid if their household income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level (e.g., $27,213.60 for a household of two in 2023). Check out Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Medicaid.
    • Georgia, Mississippi, and Wyoming legislatures decided not to expand Medicaid this year.
  • California next-of-kin now can now make final medical decisions for their family members, even if health care providers have a different opinion. Previously, California medical providers could make the decision, even if it went against the family’s wishes. Considering planning ahead, but need more information? Check out our State-Specific Estate Planning Toolkit.
  • Connecticut is considering a death with dignity bill. Ten states currently have death with dignity statutes, and eleven states are considering death with dignity legislation this year, including Connecticut. These laws are also referred to as physician-assisted dying or aid-in-dying laws, which allow certain terminally ill individuals to voluntarily and legally request and receive a prescription medication from their physician to hasten their death in a peaceful, humane, and dignified way. For more information on state legislation related to death with dignity, see Death With Dignity. If you would like to engage in advocacy in your state, see Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Legislative Advocacy for tips.
  • Connecticut Governor plans to eliminate medical debt for thousands of Connecticut residents. The Governor proposed using federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to negotiate with hospitals and purchase medical debt. Have medical bills and worried about paying them? Check out Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Managing Medical Bills.
  • Kentucky now requires health plans to cover biomarker testing. This testing can give you more information about your cancer, and potentially help your treatment team make decisions that are best for you. If you’d like to learn more, read Triage Cancer’s Checklist to Understanding Biomarker Testing. Not in Kentucky and want to learn more about your state? Check out Triage Cancer’s Chart of State Laws for Biomarker Testing.
  • Maine is considering a paid family and medical leave bill. If passed, the law would provide up to 16 weeks of paid leave to care for yourself or a family member. If you would like to engage in advocacy in your state, see Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Legislative Advocacy for tips.
  • Minnesota is considering allowing all residents to purchase MinnesotaCare, the state’s Medicaid coverage. The proposed bill would allow individuals with income above 200% of the federal poverty level to enroll if they meet additional eligibility criteria. For more information read, Minnesota House of Representatives’ article on the bill.
  • Minnesota is considering paid sick leave requirements for employers. If passed, employees could earn up to 48 paid sick leave hours per year. The leave could be used for their own mental or physical illness, preventative care, or caring for a family member. Wondering if your state has paid sick leave? See our chart of state laws.
  • In New York, you can now take time off under Paid Family Leave to care for a sibling with a serious medical condition. Siblings will include biological, adopted, step, and half-siblings and do not have to live in New York state. Benefits include up to 12 weeks of job protected, paid time off. You can read more about New York Paid Family Leave here.
  • New York strengthens protections for employees taking job protected leave. If you are missing work for a job protected reason, your employer cannot “threaten, penalize, discriminate, or retaliate” against you. Job protected leave includes federal, state, and local laws including sickness, disability, pregnancy, and caregiving. Employers can be fined up to $10,000 for a first violation. If they have multiple violations, they can be fined up to $20,000.

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 eventsmaterials, and resources, Triage Cancer is dedicated to helping people move beyond diagnosis.

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