Power. Progress. Prevention. October 26, 2018

Published on October 26, 2018

Power. Progress. Prevention. -- An Advocacy Newsletter | Prevent Cancer Foundation

October 26, 2018

CMS gives states greater power in innovation waivers, threatens coverage

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released on Monday new guidance that will dramatically change the way states are able to make changes to Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements in their insurance marketplaces.

CMS’ goal is to give more power and flexibility to states, but that could negatively impact coverage and care for some Americans. The old guidance required any new insurance plans that states introduce be equal in cost and coverage to existing plans. But under this new guidance, states will have the ability to add cheaper plans that offer fewer benefits and less coverage.

These plans won’t be required to cover pre-existing conditions and may attract younger, healthier individuals, resulting in higher premiums for those with more extensive care needs. Should someone receive a cancer diagnosis under these plans, they may be left without adequate coverage for treatment and care.

The measure also gives governors much more autonomy by removing the requirement for state legislatures to approve waivers, expanding governors’ authority in controlling health care in their respective states. This will make it even easier for states to make these changes that can negatively impact their citizens’ access to quality care.

To learn more about these changes, which won’t take effect until 2020, read the official guidance from CMS. You may also submit comments through December 24, 2018.

Trump administration revamping employer-based health reimbursement

The Trump administration announced Tuesday a plan to loosen restrictions on health reimbursement accounts (HRAs), which provide untaxed funds to help employees pay for health care costs.

Under current Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations, HRAs cannot be used to purchase policies on the individual marketplace. This new proposal would allow small and mid-sized employers to offer employees HRAs to purchase coverage from the individual marketplace, which can help with the cost of insurance for many Americans.

However, plans available for purchase would include those that don’t meet ACA requirements, such as association and short-term insurance plans with less coverage. These plans may lack adequate coverage for key cancer screenings or treatment, leaving individuals without the coverage they need.

To learn more about these proposed changes, read the official ruling. A public comment period is expected to be announced—we’ll share more details once they’re available.

Drug manufacturers required to include pricing information in television ads

The Trump administration issued a proposal last Monday to require drug manufacturers to include the list price of medications in television ads. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced the plan during a meeting at the National Academy of Medicine on October 15, 2018.

Under the proposal, pharmaceutical companies will be required to include the list price of any drug paid for by Medicare or Medicaid that exceeds $35/month.

This regulation may confuse and deter patients from seeking medications, because the list price does not reflect what patients will ultimately pay for their medications. Some patients may not seek treatment if they think a medication price is too high. This is especially dangerous for cancer patients and those on medications to help lower cancer risk.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® supports measures to make medications more affordable and accessible for patients, and will continue to monitor the situation as it progresses.

Read more about the proposed regulations here. Members of the public can submit comments until December 17, 2018. 

Phillip Morris International launches new anti-smoking campaign in the U.K.

Philip Morris International (PMI), the manufacturer behind Marlboro products, launched Thursday an anti-smoking campaign called “Hold My Light,” which aims to help adult smokers give up cigarettes by going smoke-free for 30 days. The tagline is “smoke-free with a little help from your friends,” encouraging smokers to invite friends to help them stay motivated.

The campaign urges smokers to quit by using cessation products or by switching to e-cigarettes or heated tobacco—which still contain highly addictive nicotine products. The campaign launched as PMI introduced two new versions of its smokeless tobacco device, iQOS (which is still awaiting FDA approval in the U.S.). Meanwhile, PMI is still selling and marketing their Marlboro products around the world.

In the U.K., all forms of advertising for tobacco products are banned, so many critics believe the campaign is an attempt to get around the laws and gain exposure for their brand and products. George Butterworth, Senior Policy Manager at Cancer Research UK, said the campaign was a “staggering hypocrisy from a tobacco company to promote its own cessation products in the U.K. while continuing to promote tobacco cigarettes across the world.”  

We support efforts to help people quit smoking, but widespread use of e-cigarettes among children and adolescents is a major concern in the U.S., and e-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved cessation method. For help quitting, call 1-800-QuitNow to be connected with at trained quit coach in your area. 

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