ASCO Remains Opposed to Senate Healthcare Bill, Urges Protections for Access to High-Quality Care

Statement by Bruce E. Johnson, MD, FASCO, President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
For immediate release
July 14, 2017

Contact

Melissa Lee
(571) 483-1661

“The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) remains opposed to the revised Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Despite the changes to the legislation, released by the Senate yesterday, the bill runs counter to ASCO’s core mission, which is to ensure that patients with cancer have meaningful access to high-quality care. Moreover, it fails to meet with ASCO’s guiding principles for health reform by cutting Medicaid and eroding critical patient protections.

“In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ASCO expressed the society’s specific concerns  that provisions in BCRA would lower critical patient protections by allowing insurers to sell health plans that do not include coverage for essential cancer screening services. BCRA would also allow for a six-month waiting period for those that fail to obtain continuous coverage—leaving many cancer patients and survivors without access to needed care.

“Reducing access to affordable health insurance will add costs to the system, decrease access to appropriate treatment and increase existing disparities in care. When individuals with cancer do not have adequate health insurance coverage they are diagnosed with more advanced cancers, receive care later in their disease course, have less access to needed medical care, and have worse outcomes than those with better coverage. We urge policymakers to ensure that robust requirements are maintained to ensure that all health plans cover the full scope of services and therapies that cancer patients require.

“Throughout the healthcare reform debates, ASCO has asserted that any health reform initiatives must ensure that all people affected by cancer have meaningful access to high-quality care, and we are confident that Congress shares this belief. We therefore call on the Senate to work in a bipartisan manner to act on behalf of Americans with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, rather than move forward with BCRA.

“ASCO will also continue to work with Congress and the Administration where possible to develop  a new plan that maintains access to affordable and sufficient healthcare coverage for all Americans, regardless of their income or health status and allows people at risk of or diagnosed with cancer to continue to access affordable insurance without interruption." 

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About ASCO: 

Founded in 1964, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) is committed to making a world of difference in cancer care. As the world’s leading organization of its kind, ASCO represents more than 40,000 oncology professionals who care for people living with cancer. Through research, education, and promotion of the highest-quality patient care, ASCO works to conquer cancer and create a world where cancer is prevented or cured, and every survivor is healthy. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation. Learn more at www.ASCO.org, explore patient education resources at www.Cancer.Net, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.