Healthcare Reform and Our Patients

Posted in Across the Nation, Cancer Care by ACCCBuzz on June 21, 2010

by Art Arriaga, ACCC Intern

Recently, representatives from ACCC had a chance to sit in on a one-day summit and hear policy experts, government representatives, and medical professionals tackle the hot topic: “What Will Healthcare Reform Mean for Our Patients?” One clear message from the event: The real work of healthcare reform began after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA) made their way through Congress.

The remarks of two key speakers presented an interesting contrast, highlighting the growing importance of the relationship between the federal and state governments in implementing these new laws.

The federal perspective of healthcare reform was provided by Marilyn Tavenner, Principal Deputy Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). According to Tavenner, the federal government must accurately communicate what the law does, assist in the transition, increase oversight into fraud and abuse, and through the Department of Health and Human Services, make regulatory changes to protect the American people.

Keynote speaker Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania Governor and former Secretary of Homeland Security, talked about the implications of healthcare reform legislation for states. He said the states are faced with two options: raise taxes to pay for the expansion of Medicaid, or continue to cut already tightly trimmed budgets.

Views presented by Ms. Tavenner and Former Governor Ridge reflect the overall complexity of the relationship between the federal and state governments when it comes to PPACA/HCERA. The federal government manages the situation from the background and sets a nation-wide policy that the states must carry out.

The two speakers were in agreement on one point: Both want this legislation to work.

That sentiment is echoed by the recent filing of a formal amicus brief filed by a number of patient advocacy organizations defending the need for the health reform law’s minimum coverage provision being challenged by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia. Breast Cancer Action, Friends of Cancer Research, National Breast Cancer Coalition, National Patient Advocate Foundation, and Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, among many others, have signed on to the brief, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Thursday June 16, 2010.

These groups, as well as Ms. Tavenner and Former Governor Ridge, want to see Americans get the coverage they need.

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