Power. Progress. Prevention. March 27, 2020

Published on March 27, 2020

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

March 27, 2020

Congress passes stimulus package

Congress passed a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package to mitigate the economic impact of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – the largest stimulus package in modern U.S. history. The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday, while the House passed it Friday.

The package includes several provisions, including:

  1. Direct payments of $1,200 to Americans earning up to $75,000, gradually phasing out payments for higher earners up to $99,000 — and an additional $500 per child.
  2. Expanded unemployment, which will provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits on top of the typical 26 weeks and an additional $600 to payments for 4 months.
  3. $350 billion in federally guaranteed loans to small businesses.
  4. $500 billion for a lending program for companies impacted by the virus.
  5. $100 billion to hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic.
  6. Deferment of student loan payment for 6 months, until to September 30, 2020.

The bill will now be sent to the president. He is expected to sign the bill into law. We will provide updates as they occur.

For cancer patients, survivors and caregivers, please view additional resources for support.

Affordable Care Act turns 10

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) celebrated its 10th birthday on March 23, 2020. The law was the largest health care reform since the creation of Medicare in 1965.

As an integral part of the health system, the ACA expanded several components to increase access to insurance coverage:

  1. Allowed dependents to remain on their parents’ insurance policies until the age of 26.
  2. Expanded Medicaid eligibility and provided additional federal funding for any state that opted into the program.
  3. Created federal and state health insurance marketplaces so people can shop and compare insurance plans to fit their needs.

In addition, it instituted several patient protection measures that greatly benefited cancer patients:

  1. No cost-sharing for preventive services, as long as they were given an “A” or “B” rating from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)
  2. Elimination of cancer as a pre-existing condition.
  3. Coverage of routine costs for clinical trials.
  4. Closing the Medicare part D prescription drug “donut hole,” a coverage gap between the initial coverage limit and the catastrophic coverage threshold in which beneficiaries are responsible for the full cost of their medications.
  5. Creation of the “10 essential health benefits,” including coverage for preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.

Currently, the fate of the ACA is uncertain. After a round of litigation in the court system, the ACA sits with a district judge who is reviewing which pieces of the law can be separated from the individual mandate (the component requiring people to purchase health insurance) after the mandate was ruled unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will then review the ACA for the third time.

CMS approves Medicaid waivers for multiple states

This week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved waivers for 18 states, granting flexibility in how they can combat COVID-19. Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Rhode Island and Virginia all received approvals.

These waivers allow states to move more quickly in their response to the pandemic by suspending certain requirements and procedural roadblocks to receiving Medicare and Medicaid benefits. For the duration of the national state of emergency declared by the president last week, the waivers allow providers to prescribe medications without approval from insurers, eliminate pre-admission reviews for some nursing homes, ease reimbursement requirements for services provided in alternative settings (outside a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital) and relax enrollment requirements to allow more out-of-state patients to receive services.

“Thanks to the decisive leadership of President Trump during this emergency, the CMS has been able to swiftly remove barriers and cut red tape for our state partners,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “These waivers give a broad range of states the regulatory relief and support they need to more quickly and effectively care for their most vulnerable citizens.”

As the situation develops, additional waivers and changes to care may continue. We will provide updates as they occur.



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