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January 21, 2019

King thankful for ACA coverage as he begins radiation treatments

Courtesy / U.S. Naval War College, Flickr
Courtesy / U.S. Naval War College, Flickr
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, disclosed Friday that he is beginning follow-up radiation treatments for residual prostate cancer. His radiation therapy is expected to be completed by mid-March and will not affect his ability to conduct his work in the U.S. Senate.

In announcing Friday that he is beginning follow-up radiation treatments for residual prostate cancer, U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, expressed thanks for the health insurance he has through the Affordable Care Act.

"Once again, I'm one of the lucky ones," King said in a statement sent to Mainebiz. "If it weren't for insurance — through the ACA — and a great team of doctors, I'm not so sure I'd have this story to tell. For so many Maine people, even regular checkups can be a hardship. It shouldn't have to be that way. For far too long, many in Washington have treated health care like it's some sort of privilege that can be revoked from those who are too poor or sick. It's not a privilege, it's a prerequisite for all Americans seeking happy, healthy, productive lives. Ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care isn't a radical idea, it's a compassionate one. And as long as I represent Maine in the Senate, I will continue to do my part to make sure everyone with a story like mine has access to treatment like mine too."

On a call with his staff on Friday, King announced he will complete radiation therapy at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C., by mid-March.

King disclosed that he had completed last week the first of an eight-week round of radiation to treat some small, localized, residual prostate cancer.

"This is a five-day-a-week radiation treatment that will take about 20 minutes each morning until mid-March," he said. "What it means for my work in the Senate? Absolutely nothing. I have been assured by my doctors, as recently as this morning, that I will remain healthy through my current Senate term and beyond. I don't expect to miss a single vote, hearing, or constituent meeting."

"For many of you, cancer treatment is scary to hear, but in this case, it's more like maintenance. I've been taking care of myself and following doctor's orders. I'm not worried and you shouldn't be either. In the meantime, I'll keep you up to speed on my progress and I plan to be back to snapping sunsets in no time."

King disclosed that In 2015 he underwent prostate surgery that removed the entire prostate gland and some of the tissue around it. Since then, he has been cancer-free, and has been following doctors' orders, routinely monitoring his prostate-specific antigen to check for signs of cancer recurrence.

After his doctors detected a slight elevation in his PSA levels and conducted a number of tests to determine that the cancer was contained in the prostate area only, he opted to undertake a fairly common follow-up treatment which consists of daily, localized, radiation therapy. He began radiation on Jan. 14 and stated that he has not experienced any side-effects of the cancer or the treatment.

Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers in American men, with the American Cancer Society reporting that about one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

King said his doctors are confident his treatment will eliminate the disease.

Staunch defender of ACA

King has been among the defenders of the Affordable Care Act's health care protections, voting against each attempt to repeal the ACA without a replacement as well as efforts undertaken by the Trump administration to undermine the law.

He has spoken on the floor of the Senate to illustrate the importance of the ACA's provisions to expand health care to more Americans, including two speeches in January 2017 in which he shared the stories of Maine people who rely on the ACA to receive health coverage and highlighted how health insurance saved his own life as a young man.

In disclosing that he was undergoing radiation treatments, King reiterated his earlier criticisms of what he described as the Trump administration's "sabotage" of the ACA, including reduced advertising, shortened enrollment deadlines and cutting support staff for potential customers during the enrollment period for 2019.

King is a cosponsor of a bill that seeks to authorize the Senate Legal Counsel to defend the ACA in court — "since the federal government will not," he added.

In August 2017, King laid out a roadmap of health care priorities, which would improve market stability and lower health care costs.

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