Reject the AHCA

To the Editor:

We at the Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center are very concerned about the impact of the currently proposed health care law on present and future cancer patients, especially those whom we serve in Hancock and Washington counties. Those patients are especially vulnerable under the proposed changes in Medicaid payments and coverage of pre-existing conditions.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Affordable Care Act currently covers 272,100 Medicaid enrollees in Maine and pays $1,623,731,700 on their behalf. The KFF estimates that, in Washington and Hancock counties, under the proposed American Health Care Act, after-tax-credit insurance premiums could rise to $818 per month, nearly doubling the after-tax-credit annual total of $2,480 to $4,390 and representing an increase from 8 percent of income to 15 percent. And these are just estimates. For a 60-year-old Hancock County resident earning $40,000 a year, the KFF estimates that annual after-tax premiums could quadruple, from $4,080 to $17,090. Furthermore, the KFF says, under the AHCA, average after-tax credits in Maine’s easternmost counties could drop from nearly $5,000 to $3,000.

Proponents of the AHCA tout their bill’s coverage of pre-existing conditions, but waivers in the bill remove restrictions on raising rates, which will surely price many chronically ill subscribers out of the insurance market. On one end of that losing spectrum are the 229,000 people KFF counts in Maine with pre-existing conditions who are not old enough for Medicare. On the other end are the older members of that group, whose premiums will be allowed to increase 5 times those of younger people, whereas the ratio under the ACA is 3:1. Cancer patients will make up a large share of this hard-pressed group.

Reducing coverage for the infirm and indigent is not only hurtful, it is fiscally irresponsible in the realm of cancer care, for research has shown that the uninsured and underinsured are more likely than those with insurance to be diagnosed with cancer at its more advanced stages, when treatment is more expensive. (The bill presently under discussion will remove 23 million people from coverage in the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.)

For these reasons, we sincerely hope that Congress will reject the AHCA.

Donna Fricke, president, on behalf of the board of directors

Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center



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