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News You Need: Pause on Student Debt, Social Security Administration Reopening, & 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 Have Student Loans?

The pause on federal student loan payments has been extended to August 31, 2022. During this pause, federal student loans will not be accruing interest. If you have concerns about repaying student loan debt, you can find more information on our CancerFinances.org Education Module.

Need Help from the Social Security Administration?

  • On April 7, 2022, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reopened in-person services at all local Social Security offices. While you can walk in, SSA suggests making an appointment online to avoid longer wait times. There will be COVID-19 measures, including mask requirements. For more information, read the SSA announcement.

Were you unable to sign up for Medicare because you could not reach SSA?

  • If you were unable to sign up between January 1 and March 31, 2022, because you couldn’t reach SSA, you may be able to enroll in Medicare now through a special enrollment period.
  • This includes individuals who missed the General Enrollment Period, Initial Enrollment Period, or a Special Enrollment Period.
  • SSA was having difficulties with its phone and fax systems. If you were unable to reach SSA by phone or fax, you can contact your local SSA office and let them know that because of these difficulties you were unable to sign up for Medicare. Read the SSA Emergency Message for more information.

State Updates

  • Kansas is considering a bill that will increase the availability of short-term health plans. Because short-term health insurance plans do not have to include the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, they can deny individuals with pre-existing medical conditions like cancer, and deny coverage for certain treatments like chemotherapy. Unfortunately, individuals often select these plans because of the low monthly cost. But, when the short-term health plan does not cover their care, they are left with huge out-of-pocket costs.
  • Maryland’s paid family leave and medical leave will begin in 2025. The paid family leave and medical leave will provide 12 weeks of paid time off to welcome a child, take care of relatives, or for your own medical needs. The legislature overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the bill on April 29, 2022. For more information and resources related to taking time off of work, you can review Triage Cancer’s Employment page.
  • Connecticut’s proposed death with dignity law was turned down by House members. 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 prescription medication from their physician to hasten their death in a peaceful, humane, and dignified way. If you would like more information on death with dignity and your state’s laws, see Triage Cancer’s Estate Planning Toolkit.
  • Washington’s long-term care fund, the “WA Cares Fund,” has been delayed. The WA Cares Fund will be funded through a payroll tax on Washington workers. While the tax was supposed to begin in January 2022, the legislature has been making changes to the program. Now, the tax will not begin until July 2023. People needing help with long-term care, who have paid into the tax, will be able to access help in July 2026. For more information on paying for long-term care, see our CancerFinances.org module on Long-Term Care.

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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Kaylee Place
kp@triagecancer.org