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

Experts Say Government-Led Drug Pricing Laws Will Fail

As Washington attempts to address the soaring costs of prescription medications, some experts are attempting to shed light on the many complicated aspects of the drug pricing issue. The free-market system has countless moving parts, and perhaps so-called big government ownership isn’t the answer to inflating drug costs. As the author aptly states, “From a public-relations standpoint, drug companies are often their own worst enemies. Occasionally, a breathtakingly awful company taints the image of the whole industry.”

A little bit of common sense from corporations could help provide better education, transparency, and service to patients. Moreover, some adjustments for their profits might save the industry from heavy congressional oversight and involvement. The U.S. Congress will continue to hold hearings and seek answers this year.

CMS Updates System for Rural Institutions, CAR T-Cell Therapy

As advancements in cancer therapies make their way to patients across the country, public reimbursement programs like Medicare must adjust to address costs for those treatments. Often, patients in rural areas may have a harder time accessing new treatments without traveling to larger academic cancer centers.

To level the playing field and address potential cost issues in rural areas, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a change to its system that would cover a higher cost percentage for institutions in geographically rural areas. Additionally, CMS is considering several changes to payment policies for CAR T-cell therapy for all institutions. The changes would begin in 2020 and also reimburse for new technologies to ensure institutions are being adequately compensated compared to current rates.

Playing Cards Comment Draws Nurse Reactions

Nurses—and the rest of the healthcare community—swiftly responded to the Washington State senator after her insulting, erroneous, and hurtful remarks about how nurses spend their time playing cards. She has since apologized, but the fact that an elected official would say such things and use the remarks to conflate workforce issues is equally irresponsible.    

One of ONS’s many policy initiatives is to educate lawmakers about the need for smart, safe workforce practices, and oncology nurses are able to shed light on that subject time and again. Join your voice to the ONS advocacy efforts and make sure these elected officials stay in touch with the reality of the healthcare profession.