By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director
Bipartisan Bill Unveiled to Fight Opioid Epidemic
In 2016, former President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recover Act (CARA) into law. Since then, some aspects of drug addiction have been decriminalized and refocused as medical issues, helping to remove some of the stigma associated with addiction. Although CARA is a start when tackling addiction issues, several senators—both Republican and Democrat—want to take it a step farther in the national fight against opioid abuse.
The new bill, dubbed CARA 2.0, includes some provisions that were previously removed from CARA when it was passed in 2016, including an initiative to boost youth recovery and a provision that requires pharmacists and physicians to use their state drug monitoring programs prior to prescribing opioids. The new bill also aims to add more than $1 billion in funding.
ONS will continue to weigh in on the issue of access to prescription medications, reminding decision makers that patients with cancer are in a different category of pain management. The message is usually met with understanding, but it does require constant vigilance to educate elected officials.
FDA Renews Commitment to Curb Tobacco Use
With the changing of the guard, speculation often ensues that priorities will change from one political administration to the next. Some were concerned that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may shift its focus away from the importance of tobacco cessation. According to the FDA’s commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD, the agency is reaffirming its commitment to oversee and regulate the tobacco industry, especially as it pertains to marketing, distributing, and manufacturing tobacco products.
As part of its extended efforts to address the addiction crisis in the United States, the FDA is keeping tobacco use as one of its highest public health priorities. The agency has created new awareness campaigns that target potential young smokers, among other populations, to encourage them to avoid or quit smoking. ONS continues to champion smoking cessation and will work with lawmakers and congressional representatives to educate them on the cancer risks associated with tobacco use.
Walker Embraces Obamacare for Wisconsin Residents
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has been one of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) most staunch opponents. Walker had been calling to repeal and replace the ACA since its initial passage in 2010. However, he’s now looking to the ACA to provide $200 million to insurers to prevent premium hikes for his constituents in Wisconsin. Walker, noting the GOP failures in Washington to repeal and replace the ACA, called for healthcare stability for the residents of his state.
Lawmakers at the state level, like Scott, are contending with extreme premium increases for their constituents. Many lawmakers have noted that to ameliorate the impact of rising premiums, they must use ACA provisions to offset the expenses of high-cost patients. By seeking federal money for health insurers, Scott and other state-level officials can protect their constituents from future premium hikes. It’s important to remember that all politics is local, and it’s likely that Scott—among other state officials—is feeling the heat from his residents. Join ONS as we educate lawmakers about important issues to oncology and the importance of quality cancer care for all Americans.