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After decades of being denied health coverage, charged far more than they can afford for life-saving care, and forced to spend their life savings on necessary treatment simply because they have a pre-existing condition, people with cancer and their families will benefit from the Supreme Court’s recent decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act, said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the ACS’s nonprofit and nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, the ACS Cancer Action Network (CAN).

Seffrin made his strong remarks in a statement issued by ACS CAN on the same day that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a 5-to-4 ruling that President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is, in fact, constitutional. Largely at issue was whether Congress has the power to authorize that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts likened the penalty to a tax, the levying of which is constitutional.

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The ruling preserves “vital” provisions that are already improving the ability of people with cancer, as well as their families, to access needed care. For example, preventive services as are now offered for free, arbitrary dollar limits on coverage that can suddenly terminate care have been eliminated, and insurance companies are prohibited from unfairly revoking coverage when a person gets sick.

But in addition, commented Seffrin, the SCOTUS decision ensures that critical protections will be implemented for cancer patients and survivors, such as those that

• Prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to people with a pre-existing condition

• Require health plans for individuals to offer essential benefits for prevention and treatment of cancer and other conditions 

• Require insurers to provide consumers with easy-to-understand summaries about their coverage.

More information on the Affordable Care Act can be found at www.healthcare.gov. ONA