30 Aug National News: Are You Up-To-Date In Your State?
A lot has happened over the last few weeks at both the national and state levels. These are just a few highlights of topics that may have a significant impact on the cancer community.
- ACA Lawsuit:Next week, a lawsuit will be heard by a federal judge that could overturn all of most of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This case, brought by Texas and several other states, argues that the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be struck down, now that the individual mandate penalty will be reduced to $0 in 2019. Needless to say, eliminating the consumer protections in the ACA would not only have a huge impact on the cancer community and people with pre-existing condition protections, but all health care consumers.
- To hedge their bets, ten Republican senators introduced a bill that they claim will protect people with pre-existing condition protections. However, this bill will allow insurers to exclude coverage for services related to an individual’s medical condition. Imagine that you have been diagnosed with cancer. Your insurance company could exclude coverage for your chemotherapy treatment.
- Infertility Coverage: the Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act (H.R. 5965/S. 2960) is a federal bill that would help individuals and families affected by infertility by requiring health plans in the group and individual markets, the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program, Tricare, and the Veterans Administration to cover infertility treatment. The bill also would require these plans to cover fertility preservation services for patients undergoing medically necessary procedures that may result in infertility, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Not waiting for Congress to act, on Monday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law that requires health insurance companies in Illinois to cover fertility preservation for individuals diagnosed with cancer and certain other medical conditions. Fertility preservation is the preservation of eggs, sperm, and embryos, before individuals undergo cancer treatment that might leave them sterile. In most states, where this is not a requirement, individuals often face the choice of paying out of pocket for these services, or forgoing their potential ability to have biological children in the future.
In the ongoing saga of Medicaid expansion in Maine, earlier in August, the Maine Supreme Court ruled that Governor Paul LePage must move forward with Medicaid expansion, after voters passed a voter proposition in November. But the court did not decide the case on its merits, and sent the case back to Superior Court, to resolve some additional issues. So, the people of Maine must continue to wait for access to Medicaid coverage.
News broke that a Nebraska judge has dismissed a recent lawsuit that sought to keep a Medicaid expansion measure from appearing on the November general election ballot. While there was thought to be enough signatures to get expansion on the ballot, that turned out not to be the case.
After a judge found that the work requirement imposed by the Governor of Kentucky, can’t be implemented because the Trump administration didn’t consider how many people would lose coverage under such a requirement. The Trump administration is working on a revised proposal. In the meantime, a similar lawsuit has been filed in Arkansas, which is the only state where work requirements are currently in effect. Although work requirements have also been approved in New Hampshire and Indiana, and Arizona, North Carolina, and Wisconsin are awaiting federal approval.
Most Minnesotans on Medicare have coverage through a nonprofit Medicare Advantage “Cost” plan. Medicare Advantage plans are Medicare HMOs or PPOs. Soon, Medicare Cost plans will no longer be available in almost all of Minnesota’s counties, as a result of recent federal legislation. As more for profit companies move into the Medicare Advantage arena in Minnesota, consumers will have to figure out which plans are most appropriate for them, and not get fooled by marketing. As a reminder, Triage Cancer, is offering a Medicare webinar on September 12. You can register here: https://triagecancer.org/webinars.