By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director
If You Are Young and Have Cancer, Help Can Be Hard to Find
A cancer diagnosis at a young age can lead to serious hardship after completing treatments and moving into survivorship. Such was the case for Matthew Zachary after his cancer diagnosis at age 21. An interesting component to Zachary’s story—and that of many others like him—is that despite the higher number of insured Americans after the Affordable Care Act, costs and complications still plague patients. Access to health care can be a double-edge sword. It means more people are seeing providers, but it doesn't mean that people can afford those treatments.
Affordable and accessible health care shouldn't be two separate paths in quality care. Finding a way to balance those issues is of constant discussion in most policy circles. Whether the solution is a fee-for- service model, a value-based model, or simply Medicare for All, the system is overburdened and collapsing under the weight of costs. The political scales are at a tipping point. November's midterm elections might hold a changing of the guard, leading to new ideas or potential solutions. ONS is working with elected officials to support new legislation that can ease the burden on patients and caregivers.
Health Secretary Says Agency Has Power to Eliminate Drug Rebates
When it comes to prescription medication costs, plenty of finger pointing goes around. Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, Alex Azar, said his department had jurisdiction over the private sector to eliminate the drug rebates. Azar noted that rebates, which are typically given to large corporations, are not passing potential savings along to consumers. However, it’s still unclear if HHS would have the ability to revoke rebates in the private sector.
Frequently on Capitol Hill, one party will grab an idea like lowering drug prices and make it a law with or without the consent of the private sector, especially when facing potential changes in congressional leadership. It'd behoove drug makers to find a solution on their own to provide necessary medications at affordable costs, so consumers can have access without breaking the bank. President Trump has made this a cornerstone in his healthcare agenda, so the target has likely been set on the private sector. ONS is working within the advocacy space and recently submitted a letter to the HHS secretary regarding drug reform.
Trump Administration Needs to Step Up on Obamacare
Everyone agrees that people need health insurance coverage of some sort, but how to pay for an expanding base of consumers is always the issue. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was presented, one of its goals was to help level the playing field, ensuring that those without coverage were not a burden on those with insurance by driving up prices and premiums. However, a recent report said the Trump administration needs to begin supporting ACA after multiple failed attempts to repeal the law in 2017.
Part of the goal of ACA was to create new pools of consumers to have a base of coverage, and ACA would fund programs to actively seek those people out and help them sign up. Once the current administration cut those efforts, numbers dropped and the financial base diminished, leading to rising prices for all involved. It's an ongoing cycle with no easy answers or easy solutions. However, ONS submitted a letter to the Department of Justice recommending the administration sustain efforts for ACA.