Trump's presidency will hurt the cancer community; that's bad for everyone

Trump's presidency will hurt the cancer community; that's bad for everyone

By all accounts, Donald Trump is going to have a busy first day as President. Among many other things he claims to do is to destroy the Affordable Care Act. According to his website:

“On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.”

When people say that “we’ll survive” this presidency, they are not thinking about those who, quite literally, can’t survive the loss of some of the protections the ACA offers. For those with chronic or critical illnesses, the loss of protections for pre-existing conditions, coverage caps, and coverage for clinical trials will shorten their lives.

Trump is already walking it back, according to the Wall Street Journal. On November 11 the WSJ reported that

“Mr. Trump also showed a willingness to preserve at least two provisions of the law after Mr. Obama asked him to reconsider repealing it during their meeting at the White House on Thursday.”

Trump now favors keeping the pre-existing condition provision and the provision that allows children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans up to the age of 26.

In any case, it’s clear to me that Trump cannot “deliver” a full repeal of the ACA quickly whether he wants to or not, because he doesn’t have a plan to put in its place. It’s easy enough to be against “Obamacare.” But it’s a bit harder to work with Congress to put together a plan that will pay for the two provisions he favors without requiring healthy people to buy into the system.

With time, he certainly can eliminate hope for hundreds of thousands of people with cancer (not to mention those in need of organ transplants or with chronic diseases such as Parkinsons and MS). Two immediate results of a repeal are especially troubling: patients enrolled in clinical trials will no longer be covered by insurance and annual limits on insurance coverage would be gone.

I remember when Sarah Palin popularized the false claim that the ACA included “death panels” as part of its provisions. Her concern is ironic in an era when cancer patients are on the brink because of the ACA’s vulnerability. No death panels would be needed because people won’t be able to afford to survive.

Practically speaking, no one can afford to pay their own way in a clinical trial. I know dozens of people who are alive because of medications available only through such trials, and they are terrified. Should you not much care about these people, perhaps you do care about your own loved ones. If so, then you should want to invest in clinical trials.

We are making slow progress on curing cancer. What progress we have made has resulted through clinical trial research. Many of those in clinical trials will die, but their participation helps shape treatments and prolong survival for others. We have a broad interest as Americans in seeing that our insurance companies support these treatments and research projects.

Since the November 8, 2016 election approximately 7500 people have died from cancer. No matter who the president-elect, life goes on, and so does death. However, the election of Donald Trump is particularly terrifying for the cancer community.

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Filed under: Cancer, Uncategorized

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