Contact Your Elected Officials
Health Care: Access Isn't the Same As Affordability

Dear Fellow Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients,
I hope you are well.
Last night, the President of the United States stated that during March, he intends to work with members of Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). ACA was passed in 2010 after many long months of research, debate and discussion. To think that in one month a new plan will replace a complex system is unbelievable.  
Since ACA's passage, 18 million people have acquired health insurance through a market system that:

(1) does not allow insurance companies to use pre-existing conditions to deny coverage or charge more for coverage; 
(2) does not place annual or lifetime limits on the amount of care a patient can receive; and 
(3) allows States to expand their Medicaid program to those with limited incomes by picking up the cost of that expansion.
Since 2003, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, a patient-led organization, has worked to educate and inform patients and their caregivers about the disease and how it is treated.   Today, MBCN thinks it is important for each of you to become knowledgeable about how decisions made by your Congressional leaders in March can and will affect your ability to receive your cancer treatments and stay alive.
When patients make a personal decision to fight their disease and seek the best treatments possible,  it is  health insurance coverage that ensures patients access to  affordable and comprehensive quality care.   

Most older patients with metastatic breast cancer and those approved through the Social Security disability program (SSDI) have coverage through Medicare. Patients with limited incomes can qualify for Medicaid in their State. Some patients have private insurance coverage offered through their workplace, and many other patients, too young for Medicare, have purchased affordable comprehensive care through a state exchange program offered through the Affordable Care Act.
With affordable,  c omprehensive health coverage, we can fight our metastatic breast cancer. It is not our fault that we have this disease, and we should not be penalized because we have a pre-existing condition.
President Trump said last evening that he would "insure that those with pre-existing conditions have  access to health coverage."

Access is NOT the same as affordability.
One way to deal with people who have pre-existing conditions is to develop High Risk Pools where people can have "access" to health care. Note, "access" to care does not mean you could afford comprehensive health insurance. Experience with high risk pools in our nation's past shows that they are very expensive to administer; offer i nsurance that is prohibitively priced; and offer much less than optimal coverage, often with annual and lifetime limits and very high premiums and deductibles. 

High Risk Pools are not the answer for those with a terminal or chronic disease, whether it be cancer, heart disease, or other conditions.

What has been missing in the public and media discussions about the Affordable Care Act is  how patients have benefited from the having quality, affordable insurance.
With that in mind, I ask each of you to communicate with your Congressman and Senators as soon as possible about how having access to affordable comprehensive healthcare has allowed you to receive treatments that have extended your life.
You can find the name and phone number of your congressperson at:

Let your representative know that allowing insurance companies to charge more for comprehensive healthcare because we have a "pre-existing condition" will either bankrupt us or end our life.  

We deserve better!
Warm regards,
Shirley Mertz
Metastatic Breast Cancer Network


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