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

McConnell Suggests Shutdown Could Last for Weeks

On January 3, 2019, the newly elected, Democrat-controlled House of Representatives introduced legislation to reopen the federal government and end the current shutdown. It’s not about the money, which is usually the case; it’s about the blame. The border wall funding—in whatever capacity—is politically driving the shutdown. But Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t want to take up a Democrat-sponsored bill that he knows the president will veto. Democrats want that to happen to force the president to either accept the blame for the shutdown or to cave without funding for the wall and reopen the government.

It's a dangerous game of chess, and it’s directly impacting Americans. Although many of the government’s healthcare services have been funded through 2019, not all are safe from the shutdown. Portions of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food safety operations are without funding, along with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs, which monitors for threats from infectious diseases and pandemics. Indian Health Services has also lost funding and is responsible for providing vital healthcare provisions to Native American nations and tribes throughout the country. Without an end in sight, the burden of unpaid employees and the lack of services could begin to show itself in different ways. Join your voice to ONS’s advocacy effort and speak truth to power on behalf of your patients and profession.

Obamacare, Ruled Invalid by Federal Judge, Will Remain in Effect During Appeal

In December 2018, federal judge Reed O’Connor of Texas ruled against the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) constitutionality, thus making the healthcare law invalid. Although he ruled against ACA—to the delight of the many conservative state attorneys general who initially filed the case—he also issued a ruling that allows ACA to continue until the case is fully decided.

Allowing the healthcare law to continue has made the 15 other state attorneys general who currently support ACA very pleased, giving them the opportunity to prove in federal court that the law is constitutional. It’s a ping-pong political game that the courts will have to rule on—or that Congress will have to change through additional regulations. Regardless, the debate is far from over. ONS’s advice and clinical expertise in the political arena will ensure Americans maintain access to affordability, quality cancer care.

Medicare for All Advocates Emboldened by Obamacare Lawsuit

As the House of Representatives changes leadership—ensuring that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is safe from congressional repeal for at least another two years—progressive Democrats are using the recent ruling against ACA from judge Reed O’Connor in Texas as an opportunity to extend healthcare coverage by pushing for a single-payer healthcare system, dubbed “Medicare for All.”

Many Democrats fear ACA will never be safe from future repeal. By focusing on top domestic policy issues like health care and pre-existing condition coverage, Democrats hope to expand eligibility through Medicare, effectively offering a broader coverage option for Americans. The measure scores well with voters who understand the concept and the recognize the name. Many legislators are coming around to the idea, and, with concerted advocacy efforts, serious conversations may begin in Congress.