Petitioning United States Congress

Support "Cancer Relief Bill" proposed legislation

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Updated "Cancer Relief Bill", proposed legislation. July 22, 2016

Introduction:

There is a very common and tragic phenomenon for those diagnosed with cancer; families are losing their jobs, possessions, and even their homes because of this insidious disease. Even with insurance, copays are devastating. If you are eligible for Medicaid, your medical costs may be covered but the loss of income due to treatment cost you everything else. Middle income families are hard hit because they are not eligible for existing assistance. The financial burden of cancer turns their household budgets upside down; there is simply no room for hundreds or thousands of dollars per month in copays and other related medical costs.

Every state and county is different with what assistance may be available, and most run on limited donations. Federal help such as Disability is also not consistent; some being approved in a timely fashion and some later stage patients waiting more than a year for approval; some stage IV patients denied up to four times for what should be automatic approval for disability.

Large charity organizations (only a few actually offer monetary assistance) have stipulations that many patients do not fit into. Even larger organizations like The American Cancer Society do not offer monetary assistance; rather, they concentrate on awareness and research.

What is left is a large gaping hole of devastation that a majority of cancer patients are falling into.

Employers aren't allowed to fire an employee because of an illness, yet many continually find ways to let them go during treatment. Many even lay off the spouse of a cancer patient, to avoid the predicted group policy changes. Most patients do not have a savings account or a financial support system to rely on. If you receive state benefits, any money that is gifted to you from a fundraising page is counted against your benefits. If you don't know to report the monetary gifts as income, you are charged with welfare fraud.

Existing programs need reform, new programs need to be in place, and relief needs to happen for the victims of a disease that kills 596,000 people a year in the United States. You should not find yourself homeless while fighting for your life, due to an illness you had no choice in. You should not have to choose between life saving medications and procedures, or the electric bill. The following set of proposals will not only save thousands of lives, but will save thousands of families from complete financial devastation.

15 Proposals to become the "Cancer Relief Bill":

1. A mandatory patient navigator or caseworker in every hospital and oncology facility who will be trained to help a patient apply for Disability, SSI, and will be familiar with all resources available through cancer treatment and beyond. Most household finances fall apart after treatment; most organizations only help during active treatment. Patients aren't informed of any resources available, and many are too sick to search and apply.

 2. Instant and expedited Disability approval for stage 4 cancer patients. Instant approval for stage 3 with rechecks every 6 months to see if the patient is physically able to return to work. If they are permanently disabled, then they will not have to wait years for approval. Stages 1 and 2: Careful consideration of the long term disabling affects of surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Consideration of recurring cancer cases and their survival statistics. No redetermination on Stage 4; right now, if a person is NED for any length of time, Disability has been known to be stopped. Stage 4 is terminal, incurable, resulting in death. Medicare is needed to stay alive as long as possible.

3. Lower the eligibility age of the Reverse Mortgage Program for cancer patients. This will allow them to stay in their home and free up funds towards medical and living expenses.

4. Mortgage Assistance: Modify existing HUD mortgage programs including Forbearance and Loan Forgiveness to include special expediting for cancer patients. Create a program for refinancing options that takes into consideration the credit rating of a patient who has lost income or is heavily underwater due to medical bills from a life threatening illness. Create a program where four months of mortgage payments can be either forgiven, or added to the end of the loan.

5. Job training or scholarships, similar to those already in the ACA, for patients who have lost their jobs due to cancer/treatment.

6. Minimum Disability amount for those too young to have earned their points, and those who have stayed home to raise their children.

7. Immediate Medicare and Medicaid benefits, including Food Stamps, to those diagnosed with cancer. A transition benefit coverage for when the patient is able to return to work for a certain length of time.

8. Expediting testing and genetic testing that will affect treatment options. For example: The BRCA1 test results currently come back after a woman has had her surgery. If she chose lumpectomy and afterward is determined to be BRCA1+, she will end up with two surgeries (additional mastectomy) which is severe physically and financially.

9. Hospitals and Oncology facilities must accept reasonable minimum payment, and cannot deny cancer treatment due to the patient being unable to pay or having insufficient insurance. Many lives are lost because life saving treatment and medications are denied. Hospitals and Oncology facilities must provide treatment and surgery to patients who are considered homeless. They do not right now, as they claim the patient must have an address to convalesce to.

10. Special consideration of low credit scores due to loss of income and illness from cancer. Credit scores are used now for employment, housing, and car insurance; A catastrophic event like a life threatening illness should not condemn you to unemployment status, homelessness, or inflated rates. You are already in urgent financial hardship and are trying to rebuild your life. A previous eviction, proven to be due to the financial toll of cancer, should not count against you when you are applying towards new housing.

11. Rent Assistance: Special rent subsidies or vouchers for 4 months or longer for a cancer diagnosis; expanding on the HUD rent assistance programs. Also, the government must fund the HUD programs properly. In certain states, the Section 8 Voucher program has a 7 year waiting list to apply. Most states have at least a 2 year wait. A cancer patient does not have that time, and cannot fight for their lives if they and their family become homeless due to loss of income.

12. A National online prescription availability. For example: Walgreens has a $20 prescription card that saves hundreds of dollars towards expensive medications. A federal program that duplicates that, or allowing an existing business to provide that service for those who are not located near to them.

13. Tightening up on employers who do not work with a cancer patient during treatment. This is the number one source of financial ruin for most families facing cancer: They or their spouse losing their income due to debilitating treatment. Possibly, a government grant to the employer that will hold the patient's job, or a tax credit.

14. Hospice in every county of every state, always covered by Medicaid.

15. Finally, in order to help fund the changes and additions to assistance for cancer patients: An option on the Federal tax return to donate towards "Cancer Relief". It will be subtracted from the tax refund or added to the amount needing to be paid in; similar to what State income tax returns offer.

In closing:

Cancer now affects one in every three Americans. It is the second leading cause of death in the United States; a close second behind Heart Disease. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be nearly 1,685,000 new cancer diagnosis' in 2016.

Cancer financially devastates a large portion of the population who are diagnosed. It is certain to have an impact on our economy when hundreds of thousands are forced into being unemployed, or even left homeless due to an event that was not of their choice.

Cancer patients and survivors are not looking for a handout; they are looking for a chance to heal and continue on with their lives. Late stage cancer patents are only wanting to fight for their lives without losing everything they have worked for.

Please help us to make a change. There are several studies now that indicate the financial toxicity of cancer raises morbidity. Below, Fred Hutchinson Research Institute reveals terrifying statistics on the bankruptcy rates being 2.5 more for cancer patients, and that the death rate is up to 80% higher for a cancer patient who goes through bankruptcy.

HICOR Study Links Financial Toll to Higher Death Rate in Cancer Patients

Please help us to reveal the truth and provide support that can save lives.

Tina Peterson Pirlot,

Author of the "Cancer Relief Bill", proposed legislation.

Michigan

 


Paulette Leaphart

Contributor to the "Cancer Relief Bill", proposed legislation;

"The woman who walked 1,000 miles for Change."

Mississippi

 

Patricia Wetzel

Advisor and supporter of the "Cancer Relief Bill", proposed legislation.

Founder of The Anti-cancer Club

Nevada

***********************************************************************

"Cancer Relief Bill", proposed legislation; First Draft, 2015

Introduction:  

I am a cancer survivor of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I discovered support in online Facebook groups which immensely helped me through my journey. Literally thousands of women, like me, coming together for the sole purpose of getting and giving support through the most feared experience possible: Cancer.  

After more than a year of absorbing women's stories, I noticed there was a very common and tragic phenomenon; families were losing their jobs, possessions, and even their homes because of cancer. Even with insurance, copays were devastating. If you were eligible for Medicaid, your medical costs may be covered but the loss of income due to treatment cost you everything else. Middle income families are hard hit because they are not eligible for existing assistance; the financial burden of cancer turned their household budgets upside down. There was simply no room for hundreds or thousands of dollars per month in copays and other related medical costs.  

Every state and county is different with what assistance may be available, and most run on donations. Federal help such as Disability is also not consistent; some being approved in a timely fashion and some later stage women waiting more than a year for approval.   Large charity organizations such as "The Pink Fund" and the "Catherine Fund" (only a few actually offer monetary assistance) have stipulations that some women do not fit into.  Even larger organizations like Komen and The American Cancer Society do not offer monetary assistance; rather, they concentrate on awareness and research.

What is left is a large gaping hole of devastation that a majority of cancer patients are falling into.  

Employers aren't allowed to fire an employee because of an illness, yet many continually find ways to let them go during treatment. Most patients do not have a savings account or a financial support system to rely on.  

Existing programs need reform, new programs need to be in place, and relief needs to happen for the victims of a disease that kills 589,000 people a year in the United States. You should not find yourself homeless while fighting for your life, due to an illness you had no choice in. You should not have to choose between life saving medications and procedures or the electric bill.    

15 Proposals to become the "Cancer Relief Bill":   

1.  A mandatory nurse navigator or caseworker in every hospital and oncology office who will be trained to help a patient apply for Disability, SSI, and will be familiar with all resources available through cancer treatment and beyond. Most household finances fall apart after treatment; most organizations only help during active treatment.  

2. Instant and expedited Disability approval for stage 4 cancer patients. Instant approval for stage 3 with rechecks every 6 months to see if the patient is physically able to return to work. If they are permanently disabled, then they will not have to wait years for approval. Stages 1 and 2: Careful consideration of the long term disabling affects  of surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Consideration of recurring cancer cases and their survival statistics.  

3. Lower the eligibility age of the Reverse Mortgage Program for cancer patients. This will allow them to stay in their home and free up funds towards medical and living expenses.  

4. Modify existing HUD mortgage programs including Forbearance and Loan Forgiveness to include special expediting for cancer patients. Create a program for refinancing options that takes into consideration the credit rating of a patient who has lost income or is heavily underwater due to medical bills.  

5. Job training or scholarships, similar to those already in the ACA, for patients who have lost their jobs due to cancer/treatment.  

6. Minimum Disability amount for those too young to have earned their points, and those who have stayed home to raise their children.  

7. Immediate Medicare and Medicaid for those eligible. Perhaps raising the income eligibility level for those with life threatening illnesses for Medicaid.  

8. Expediting testing and genetic testing that will affect treatment options. For example: The BRCA1 test results currently come back after a woman has had her surgery. If she chose lumpectomy and afterward is determined to be BRCA1+, she will end up with two surgeries (additional mastectomy) which is severe physically and financially.  

9. Hospitals and Oncology services must accept reasonable minimum payment. If a patient's bill goes to collections, it hurts both the hospital and the patient.  

10. Special consideration of low credit scores due to loss of income and illness from cancer. Credit scores are used now for employment, housing, and car insurance; A catastrophic event like a life threatening illness should not condemn you to unemployment status, homelessness, or inflated rates. You are already in urgent financial hardship and are trying to rebuild your life.  

11. Special rent or mortgage subsidies for a certain amount of time due to catastrophic illness; Expanding on the HUD rent assistance programs.  

12. A National online prescription availability. For example: Walgreens has a $20 prescription card that saves hundreds of dollars towards expensive medications. A federal program that duplicates that, or allowing an existing business to provide that service for those who are not located near to them.  

13. Tightening up on employers who do not work with a cancer patient during treatment. This is the number one source of financial ruin for most families facing cancer: Losing their income due to treatment. Possibly, a government grant to the employer that will hold the patient's job, or a tax credit.  

14. Hospice in every county of every state.  

15. Finally, in order to help fund the changes and additions to assistance for cancer patients: An option on the Federal tax return to donate towards "Cancer Relief". It will be subtracted from the tax refund or added to the amount needing to be paid in; similar to what State income tax returns offer.  

In closing:    

Cancer now affects one in every three Americans. It is the second leading cause of death in the United States; a close second behind Heart Disease. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be nearly 1,680,000 new cancer diagnosis' in 2015.    

With over a year's worth of absorbing just one type of cancer's effect on families, I can say without hesitation; cancer, in any form, financially devastates a large portion of the population who are diagnosed. That must have an impact on our economy when hundreds of thousands are forced into being unemployed or even left homeless due to an event that was not of their choice.    

Cancer patients and survivors are not looking for a handout; they are looking for a chance to heal and continue on with their lives. Late stage cancer patents are only wanting to fight for their lives without losing everything they have worked for.  Thank you very much for your time. Please help us to make a change.    

Sincerely,  

Tina Peterson Pirlot  

Michigan

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