By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director

Medicare to Cover Advanced Cancer Screening Tests

Precision medicine has a been a hot topic in health care for years now, but costs and coverage issues have created challenges to get patients the genetic testing they need at an affordable cost. In a memo from October 29, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed extending Medicare coverage to pay for genetic sequencing tests for certain hereditary types of ovarian and breast cancer.

It’s a step in the right direction for the precision medicine initiative, and CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a tweet, “Today’s proposal is just one of the many actions taken as part of CMS’s commitment to fostering innovation and ensuring our #Medicare beneficiaries have access to the latest technologies.” Patients look to their oncology nurses for a better understanding of genetic testing and the inherited factors that lead to cancer. Learn about testing and hereditary cancer genetics on The Oncology Nursing Podcast.

ACA Remains Strong as Trump-Backed Lawsuit Moves Forward

After almost a decade, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has survived two Supreme Court challenges and a number of smaller congressional and presidential attempts to change elements of the law. Far from being disliked, ACA continues to see Americans seeking the coverage necessary for their families, and elements like pre-existing condition coverage and insurance for dependents to age 26 are popular. Despite its popularity, a Trump-backed lawsuit could dismantle the law entirely.

The Trump administration has already succeeded in changing elements of the bill, granting states more power over the administration of some insurance plans. Senate Democrats tried to roll back the move but were unsuccessful. Health care is a complex and divisive political issue, and it’s likely to remain so in a split Congress. ONS members advocate for access to quality, affordable care, regardless of system or party. Join your voice to the ONS advocacy efforts

Budget Group Outlines Medicare for All Cost

Most Democratic presidential candidates have been supportive of the Medicare for All proposal, but a few are backing away from it, citing the expected initial high fees to cover the universal plan. A recent report from a budget watchdog group suggested the total cost of Medicare expansion to cover all Americans could come with a $30 trillion price tag, and financing it would force elected officials to make trades off.

At this time, no Republicans have offered their support for the expanded health policy idea. Regardless of the actual figure, any report suggesting a price tag like $30 trillion will draw ire from a public and private perspective—it’s a mountain to overcome. Concessions are necessary for a more palatable number that American voters can get behind before any proposal could move forward. Conversations are still in the early phases, and no legislative movement has happened yet. But the idea of Medicare for All has gone from an absurd theory to a very real possibility in short order.