The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) says it is deeply worried that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — which narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4 and now goes to the Senate for consideration — will have serious consequences for multiple myeloma patients and others with pre-existing conditions.
Despite its rarity — the lifetime risk of developing myeloma is one in 143 — the disease is the second most common blood cancer in the United States and this year, about 30,000 new cases will be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society.
“The IMF understands the AHCA was designed with the intention of giving states more flexibility and lowering costs for all, but we have deep concerns about how the AHCA will affect the most vulnerable members of our society,” Robin Roland Levy, the IMF’s senior director of public policy and advocacy, said in a press release. “Specifically, we have concerns about how certain provisions within the bill will affect individuals with pre-existing conditions and those who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.”
Levy, whose organization is based in North Hollywood, California, also criticized high-risk pools as a sensible solution for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
“Over the years, high-risk pools have proven to be unsuccessful. Individuals living in states implementing these policies have found their lifesaving treatments become prohibitively expensive because they cannot receive healthcare coverage,” she added. “Multiple myeloma patients need access to quality healthcare, without facing the barriers that could stem from this well-intentioned, but misguided legislation. Patients fighting myeloma and all forms of cancer need timely access to the best care possible in order to improve their chances of surviving their disease and this legislation could prevent their access to care.”
The AHCA, promoted by President Donald Trump and most Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare), must still be approved by the Senate before it can be signed into law. But its passage there is far from assured.
“While the Affordable Care Act has faced its own hurdles, our organization represents countless individuals who have greatly benefitted from the ACA,” Levy said. “The IMF remains committed to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to find solutions that will truly help cancer patients and the most vulnerable in our society.”