Can we make the affordable care act better?

From American Association for Cancer Research:

Chiara D’Agostino had a feeling she would benefit from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A former Italian teacher, she had given up her full-time job to pursue a graduate degree.

She applied for coverage under the ACA in June 2014, then spent the summer studying in Italy. When she came home, she went for her yearly physical and got a clean bill of health. Because she was in her early 40s, she also went for a mammogram. Another clean bill of health.

Chiara’s Journey:

In September, she received notice of approval for coverage under the ACA. And in October, she discovered a lump in her breast. She was soon diagnosed with stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer. This is an aggressive form of the disease that is difficult to treat.

Since then, she has had two mastectomies and many reconstructive surgeries. Chiara has also had biopsies, chemotherapy, and radiation. Her cancer metastasized and is now considered Stage 4. At first, she shied away from clinical trials. Now, she is now enrolled in one for the immunotherapeutic pembrolizumab (Keytruda).

Her treatment has been largely covered by the ACA, which was enacted in 2010 and recently survived an effort to dismantle it. The legislation was the focus of a panel held at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017.

D’Agostino joined other key advocates to speak with the chair of the AACR Health Policy Subcommittee, Gil Omenn. The session’s title was “The Key Provisions of the Affordable Care Act for Cancer Patients and Survivors.”

Omenn said cancer patients and survivors have benefited significantly from the ACA. Many patients benefit from these major provisions:
  • the provision that says people can’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
  • the prohibition of annual and lifetime coverage caps
  • dependent coverage up to age 26
  • coverage of prevention, treatment and survivorship services
  • and Medicaid expansion.

D’Agostino said her ACA coverage has most likely saved her life.

Today, she works as a patient navigator, and believes the ACA is helping patients get better treatment with less stress.

“Can we make the ACA better?” she asked. “Yes, we can. But not by cutting some of its lifesaving benefits.”
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