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Senators Highlight Life-Saving Benefits of Health Reform for People Affected by Cancer, Pre-Existing Conditions

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Angus King (I-Maine) continued their coordinated effort to highlight the positive impacts the Affordable Care Act is having on millions of Americans throughout the country. During today's press conference, the members discussed how the law is benefitting people affected by cancer and other pre-existing conditions. They were joined by David Weis, a young man from New Jersey who was diagnosed with thyroid and lymphatic cancer at age 18. Without the coverage he was able to get because of the Affordable Care Act, his cancer treatments would have cost over $250,000, preventing him from graduating from college last spring.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, people affected by cancer or other pre-existing conditions are no longer prevented from gaining health care coverage because of their illness. For example, the law bans lifetime coverage caps, which previously barred people who need cancer treatments from getting the care they need to survive, and forbids insurance companies from charging an individual more because of a health condition. Additionally, now if someone is diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, an insurance company cannot drop him or her from an insurance plan. Today, approximately 129 million Americans are no longer denied health insurance or charged more because of a pre-existing condition.

The Affordable Care Act also helps to catch the development and spread of serious illnesses by making preventive screenings for illnesses such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer free for millions of Americans. More than 71 million Americans have received free preventive services as a result of the law.

Despite these benefits, Republicans continue their attempts to repeal the law. Recently, Republican senators have been pushing an effort to repeal the majority of the law, leaving millions of Americans without access to life-saving preventive care, re-imposing annual limits on care, and taking away critical prescription drug savings from seniors. Just last week, a Tea Party senator pledged his commitment to eliminate health care coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, like cancer.

"For too long, thousands of people across the country faced the nightmare of being unable to get health care coverage or treatment when they had the misfortune of getting sick," said Murphy. "But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that nightmare is over. Thanks to the law, if you are diagnosed with a serious illness, an insurance company can't drop you from your plan or deny coverage in the future. You're also able to catch an illness and treat it more quickly thanks to provisions in the law that make preventive care free. No one should be denied coverage or treatment just because they are sick. Republicans should stop throwing their weight behind efforts to repeal these life-saving protections and instead work with Democrats to improve the law."

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, cancer patients no longer have to worry about being dropped from their plans or maxing out their coverage -- they can focus on beating the disease," said Schumer. "That is a huge step forward, and we can't go back to the days when insurance companies were in the driver's seat when it came to treating cancer. While Democrats are working to improve the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to repeal the law and put critical protections for cancer patients at risk."

"The Affordable Care Act is helping millions of Americans in their fight against cancer, including thousands of women across Michigan fighting breast cancer," said Stabenow. "Now, these women will have the peace of mind knowing that they cannot be denied coverage for having a pre-existing condition and are no long subject to an annual or lifetime cap on benefits. Many women will now also have access to no-cost preventive screenings, like mammograms, to help detect cancer early and make sure women get the care they need."

"The Affordable Care Act is working for millions of Americans," said Whitehouse. "For too long, insurance companies denied health insurance to people with cancer and other pre-existing conditions, and imposed lifetime caps on coverage. For too many, going without insurance meant a diagnosis that came too late to cure. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, cancer patients and their families are finally getting the care and the peace of mind they deserve."

"The simple truth is that health insurance saves lives. I know this from personal experience. Forty years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of malignant melanoma, but thankfully, my doctor caught it early. I truly believe that if I hadn't had a job that provided me with health insurance, I would not be here today. The fact is, there are millions of Americans who haven't been as fortunate as me," said King. "The ACA is already having a tremendously positive impact on the lives of countless people across the country including those who live with pre-existing conditions or are in the midst of a battle for their life against cancer."

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