Trump Administration Can Use ASCO's Principles to Ensure Healthcare Remains Patient-Centered

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) hopes that the principles will help ensure access to healthcare and adequate insurance, to improve outcomes among those diagnosed with cancer.

Anticipating changes within the US healthcare landscape after Donald J. Trump becomes president next week, The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has released guiding principles that the new Congress and administration can use to ensure that the focus does not waiver from the patient.

The primary emphasis of these principles is to ensure access to healthcare and adequate insurance to improve outcomes among those diagnosed with cancer. Pointing out that uninsured and underinsured families often decide to forego cancer care because of the impending out-of-pocket cost burden, ASCO thinks that this is a form of avoidable stress for patients and their families. “This circumstance also increases overall expenses for all Americans,” the brief states.

With this in mind, the following principles were created so policymakers can protect the interests of patients with cancer:

  1. All Americans should have access to affordable and sufficient healthcare coverage, regardless of their income or health status.
  2. ASCO recommends that new healthcare policies should continue to ban limitations on preexisting conditions, eliminate caps on annual and lifetime coverage, and maintain guaranteed renewability.
  3. Reform brought about by the new administration should not disrupt access to affordable health insurance.
  4. The health insurance plan of a cancer patient should provide unhindered access to any physician or any health service in a timely manner.
  5. Cancer prevention and screening services should gain high priority. ASCO urges policymakers to preserve the existing “no copay” policy for screening services.
  6. Insurance coverage should not bar access to clinical trial participation.
  7. ASCO support continued efforts toward value-based reform strategies that keep the patient at the center when designed and implemented.
  8. Reform efforts should include inputs from patients and physicians to avoid unintended consequences during implementation.

ASCO President Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO, said, “As a new administration and Congress commence their important work, we will continue to advocate for policies that reflect the current realities of today’s cancer care and ensure that patients with cancer receive the full range of services they critically need.”

The 20 million patients and families who gained health insurance between 2010, when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, through 2016, have reason to be worried as the Republican party initiates the ACA repeal process. Patients have been asking tough questions to politicians, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, about the future of their healthcare. The Hill reports that a cancer patient—who’s Republican and was initially opposed to the ACA—told Ryan during a CNN town hall meeting, “thanks to the [ACA} I am standing her today alive. Why would you repeal [it] without a replacement?”