November 17, 2017
Senate tax bill takes aim at the Affordable Care Act
As the debate on tax reform continues in Congress, Senate Republicans are taking the opportunity to leverage the process to amend the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chairman of the Finance Committee, is allowing a provision in the bill that would eliminate the Individual Mandate under the ACA, which requires certain Americans to purchase health insurance or face a fine. Without the mandate in place, there is concern that healthier people will opt out of purchasing insurance, leaving those with chronic health conditions (such as cancer) to face higher premiums as insurers try to recoup the cost of the care for individuals with more complex health care needs.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that removing the Individual Mandate would reduce the deficit by $338 billion; however, 13 million Americans would lose insurance coverage, increasing premiums by at least 10 percent as many drop their coverage. The additional costs associated with the bill will prohibit millions across the country from accessing essential prevention and early detection services, while also discouraging otherwise healthy individuals from purchasing coverage that would give them access to prevention services.
Alex Azar nominated as Secretary of Health and Human Services
President Trump has nominated Alex Azar as the next Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS). The selection comes after the previous Secretary, Tom Price, stepped down in September. Azar most recently served as the president of Eli Lilly, a large pharmaceutical manufacturer, and has been a polarizing figure on the Hill. Many are applauding the choice, touting his tenure under the Bush administration and experience in the private sector. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Azar has “the qualifications and experience to get results.” However, opponents, both Democrat and Republican alike, are concerned that Azar’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry may impact bipartisan efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) showed skepticism, saying, “I am also interested in how, given Mr. Azar’s professional background, he believes he can fairly execute any significant effort to lower drug prices for patients.”
A nomination hearing has not yet been scheduled, but Republicans have expressed their intent to do so in the coming weeks.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. More than 80 percent of lung cancer cases are attributed to smoking, but non-smokers can and do get lung cancer,. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month; take the time to learn more about risk factors for this disease.
You may be at increased risk for lung cancer if you:
On Thanksgiving, stuff the Turkey—not yourself
Overeating is as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as parades and football―the average American eats about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. A healthy diet is key to preventing cancer and other deadly diseases, so here are some tips for keeping your health in mind while still enjoying your favorite holiday foods.
To learn more about how diet and exercise can reduce your risk for cancer, visit preventcancer.org. We wish you and your families a very happy Thanksgiving!
With support from