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

To Rally Voters, Democrats Focus on Health Care as Their Closing Argument

Although many states are already collecting early votes, Tuesday, November 6, 2018, will tell the full tale of the midterm elections. Many Democrats are emphasizing their focus on health care in the final days and hours before the election. By most measurable public opinion poll, health care remains the most important domestic issue for voters.

Elected officials and candidates from both parties are promising to uphold provisions from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to ensure that pre-existing conditions will be covered by any future healthcare bills. If Democrats can win seats in Republican states like Missouri, leadership in the House of Representatives and potentially the U.S. Senate would shift and drive the healthcare conversation in the coming months. Regardless of which party controls Congress, nurses must be a voice for their patients and advocate at all levels of government.

Obamacare Enrollment Unlikely to Increase in 2019

Reports suggest that enrollment in ACA is unlikely to increase next year. The Trump administration has offered little support to ACA, even repealing the individual mandate that required citizens to purchase insurance or face a penalty. However, threats saying ACA and Medicaid expansion would put further burdens on consumers have been exaggerated and mostly erroneous. In fact, ACA premiums recently fell for some enrollees.

States have seen coverage options and usage increase in their healthcare programs. These programs continue to emphasize prevention and early detection to help lower hospital costs for patients. The system isn’t perfect, but it’s far better and less expensive than initially predicted. Officials on both sides of the aisle have sounded recent calls for Medicare for All, and it could be the next battleground in the healthcare debate. ONS’s mission promotes patient-centered cancer care and supports the nurses who provide it.

Pricey Precision Medicine Often Financially Toxic for Cancer Patients

Precision medicine is a focal point for the healthcare community. However, many patients are discovering that innovative treatments aren’t cheap. More and more, healthcare providers are learning that financial toxicity for cancer care isn’t unusual or unique, but rather par for the course. Treatments deemed experimental yet successful, instead of traditional or ineffective, can be the difference between life and death, but they come at cost.

With federal funding for immunotherapy and targeted therapy research leading to new treatments and cures, health care is sometimes more about the money than the patient. Financial toxicity is an equally impactful aspect of chronic disease. As leaders in patient-centered care, nurses are front and center in the patient experience, witnessing first hand financial struggles among other side effects. By sharing those stories with legislators and elected officials, oncology nurses provide valuable education that informs future policy decisions.