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Access to Affordable, Quality Health Insurance Coverage

People with MS must have access to the healthcare and medications they need to live their best lives.

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Our Position on ACA Repeal/Replace  

Access to affordable, high quality healthcare is essential for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to live their best lives, and health insurance coverage is essential for people to be able to get the care and treatments they need.  The National MS Society believes that any repeal of the Affordable Care Act must provide a replacement to it assuring coverage that is equal to or better than the current system.  Failure to do so will cause instability in the health insurance industry, which risks disruptions in coverage and care for individuals with chronic illnesses or disabilities.  

The following principles describe the requirements of a health insurance system able to meet the needs of people with MS:
  • ACCESS: Multiple sclerosis lasts a lifetime. People with pre-existing conditions like MS must be able to access continual health coverage and care. Anything less will rob people with MS of their opportunity to live their best lives.  Interruptions in coverage or care for even a short period can result in the loss of physical or cognitive function that cannot be regained.       
  • AFFORDABLE: People with chronic conditions or disabilities should not face a choice between their care and other critical needs like housing and food.  Any new coverage system must ensure that people with complex needs are protected from financial devastation. Access to coverage will be meaningless if people are unable to afford the care they need.  Protections like premium assistance, annual caps, elimination of lifetime caps, reasonable deductibles and out-of-pocket costs spread throughout a plan year will help people get the care they need and remain as healthy as possible.
  • COMPREHENSIVE:  Health insurance benefits must be sufficient for people to access the care required for optimal health. Healthcare services for individuals with chronic illnesses must include all the healthcare needed throughout the person’s life. Quality MS care requires a comprehensive treatment approach with access to a coordinated team of experts, medicines, equipment and supports needed to achieve the best outcomes. 
  • TRANSPARENT: Coverage details and healthcare costs must be transparent and presented in clear and simple language for patients and their healthcare providers to make the best treatment decisions. Patients should be able to navigate through the system with ease. Barriers to care such as burdensome and opaque appeals processes have no place in a transparent, effective system. Patients should be the beneficiary of any discounts or rebates offered within the healthcare system.  
  • QUALITY AND VALUE: The healthcare system must continuously evolve to determine the best treatment for each individual, as well as how and when they receive it. Living with and treating MS is very expensive. (citation) Continued investment is needed to integrate patient-centered care and to better understand and define value and quality care in pursuit of a sustainable healthcare system. These priorities will increase efficiency, meet the needs of patients and improve our healthcare system overall. 
FAQs on the Society’s position on ACA Repeal/Replace   
The Society's statement on the American Health Care Act
The Society's statement on the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017
Learn more about the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017

What We Are Trying to Accomplish

People with MS must have access to the healthcare and medications they need to live their best lives. Society input and stances related to the evolving healthcare landscape are guided by our Access to High Quality MS Healthcare Principles and the Access to MS Medications Recommendations.

Happening at the National Level

In January 2017, Congress passed a Budget Resolution that made no immediate changes to the Affordable Care Act, but set the stage for possible changes to the healthcare system. Under the Budget Resolution, reconciliation bills that repeal or adjust parts of the Affordable Care Act related to spending and revenue only require a simple majority of 51 votes to get through the Senate. 

In March, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill—the American Health Care Act (AHCA, H.R. 1628)—that repeals and replaces parts of the Affordable Care Act and makes fundamental changes to Medicaid. Because the legislation does not meet the Society’s criteria that would ensure people with MS have the coverage and care they need to live their best lives, the Society opposed the bill. After amendments were made to the bill (that did not change the Society’s stance), the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act on Thursday, May 4th by the narrow margin of 217-213.

On May 24, 2017, the independent Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the House-passed American Health Care Act finding that it would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 23 million over the next ten years and increase costs for many with pre-existing conditions.On June 22, 2017 the U.S. Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

Letters of Support:

News Updates

Trump’s Vow to Repeal Health Law Revives Talk of High-Risk Pools – The New York Times
Health Care’s Bipartisan Problem: The Sick Are Expensive and Someone Has to Pay – The Wall Street Journal

Take Action Now

Call, tweet, and write to your U.S. Senators to make sure you are heard on healthcare today!
Click here to: CALL, TWEET, and WRITE to your U.S. Senators to make sure you are heard on healthcare today!

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