I am a cancer patient, a physician and a member of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. We meet with legislators to advocate for additional funding for cancer research and improved insurance access.

The recent narrow passage of the American Health Care Act by the U.S. House of Representatives was very concerning to me. I get insurance through my employer, the hospital where I work, but many patients in our volunteer network are freelancers or independent contractors and have been relying on Obamacare for coverage.

All of us not eligible for Medicare would immediately be placed into one of the high-risk insurance pools that the new law allows. Maine is a relatively poor state, and I am worried that the funds appropriated in the new law will not be enough.

What might transpire if the law goes through, and the premiums turned out to be too high because of lack of funding? Probably waiting lists and people leaving for other states to take advantage of better coverage.

People with cancer would end up leaving Maine to go to Massachusetts, New York or California – all wealthier states that would make up some of the funding shortfall out of state funds. In response, those states might try to protect their limited funding by imposing waiting lists before people could enter the high-risk pools. A patient like me might die while waiting a whole year to get access to chemotherapy!

To avoid these horrible unintended consequences, please tell our senators as soon as possible to vote against the new health care law, or improve it so that the high-risk pools are no longer necessary. A cancer patient’s life might depend on how they vote.

Peter Bridgman, M.D.