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

House Overwhelmingly Passes Final Opioid Package

Through tremendous bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed comprehensive opioid legislation to address the national abuse epidemic in the United States on June 22, 2018. For many healthcare advocates, an opioid legislation package has been a long time coming. The opioid crisis has been in the news since before the 2016 presidential election but was brought to the forefront during that campaign.

Legislators and committees have worked together to identify real opportunities to positively impact the national issue. With hundreds of ideas and drafts circulating, policymakers did their homework and honed them down to 50, combining the essential goals into a single bill. ONS continues to advocate for appropriate pain management in the face of a national opioid epidemic.

Texas v. the United States Could Impact Patients With Preexisting Conditions

News continues to emerge about the case of Texas v. the United States. In Texas, 20 Republican state attorneys, along with two individual plaintiffs, filed a case against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The case claims aspects of the healthcare law—such as the individual mandate—are unconstitutional. As it stands, the case could also threaten the consumer protections that ACA provides, which prevent patients with preexisting conditions from being charged higher insurance premiums or being excluded from plans altogether. 

Now, with the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, the balance of voting could potentially shift in the U.S.’s highest court. As a common swing vote on controversial issues, Kennedy's replacement could give the Supreme Court five solid conservative votes, providing them a majority on all cases. If the Supreme Court decides to take Texas v. the United States, then repealing ACA for constitutional reasons could happen—including the consumer benefits like protecting patients with preexisting conditions. As the case develops and the ACA is further examined, ONS will continue to advocate for access to quality, affordable care for patients with cancer.  

Lawmakers Who Forged ACA Look Back

Since its inception, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has garnered praise and criticism from all sides of the aisle. According to the bill’s architects, perfection is hard to come by. At a gathering for Kaiser Health News, former senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chris Dodd (D-CT), along with former House Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), George Miller (D-CA), and Sander Levin (D-MI), sat down to discuss the trials and tribulations of creating a national healthcare bill.

Their takeaways provided a great historical perspective on the evolution of healthcare reform through the past 30 years. The timing is interesting now that the Supreme Court could decide to revisit the issue again. As is often said, “what's old is new again.” But what we say in DC is, “perfect is the enemy of good.” Learn more about becoming an advocate for the issues important to oncology nursing.