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Washington, D.C. [June 28, 2012]—Like all national organizations involved in health related policy, Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) has closely monitored developments surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Supreme Court ruled today that the so-called “individual mandate” is constitutional since it falls under the power of the Congress to tax. The mandate requires everyone to purchase health insurance or face a monetary penalty.
Mandates also extend to insurance plans which must cover pre-existing conditions, include young adults up to age 26 on their parents’ policy, and lift lifetime caps on coverage. The law offers insurance subsidies for those who cannot afford the premiums and also expands Medicaid coverage
It is now up to each state to offer a variety of plans including state-subsidized plan with reduced premiums which must be fully in place by 2014.
Lung cancer patients and those at risk from the disease have an enormous stake in this decision. Without coverage, patients and families can face bankruptcy and even denial of care. And because over 70% of lung cancer patients are diagnosed at late stage, treatment costs and frequent hospitalizations are extremely high.
Clearly, given the sweeping nature of this ruling and the law itself, Lung Cancer Alliance will more thoroughly examine this decision and its implications. But the immediate actions are in order.
Step 1: Ensure CT screening those at high risk, which has now been scientifically proven by both international and national studies to detect lung cancers at early curable stage when deaths and costs can be dramatically reduced, is made part of both private and public health plan coverage.
Lung Cancer Alliance will accelerate its efforts to expedite the federal government’s re-examination of the “grade” it gives to cancer screening methods to ensure that lung cancer’s screening is upgraded and covered by Medicare. Additionally, Lung Cancer Alliance will expand this advocacy to insure that state agencies will include CT screening as an “essential health benefit” in State Health Plans for low-income and uninsured.
Step Two: Continue to advocate that lung cancer be treated as a national public health priority with a comprehensive plan of action to reduce its mortality by 50% by 2020 as called for by the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act, legislation introduced with bipartisan support in both Houses of Congress last year.
Step Three: Continue to ensure that anyone affected by lung cancer receives compassionate care and to end the stigma that has curtailed progress in research, treatment and early detection.
View the Consumers Guide to the Affordable Care Act from Kaiser Health News: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2012/March/22/consumer-guide-health-law.aspx.