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

Trump Administration Allows Medicaid Block Grants

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been trying to find new avenues to implement a conservative approach to Medicaid spending at the state level. At the end of January 2020, the agency introduced a program that enables states to convert funding into block grants and determine how best to allocate health funding in their own jurisdictions.

Medicaid advocates caution that the program might cause a potential downstream effect that could reduce funding to people and communities who need it most. The Trump administration is expecting pushback, and a new legal fight will likely follow. Access is a central issue to ONS health policy as well as a key component to successful patient care. Join your voice to ONS advocacy efforts today.

Technology Can Help Address the Nursing Shortage

The national nursing workforce shortage may limit the quality of care and the way it’s delivered to patients. Fewer nurses means increased workloads and inadequate staffing levels, leading to potential patient safety errors. However, innovative solutions could change the future of nursing. Scheduling technologies, web-based programs, and mobile apps could help alleviate the growing workload for nurses—now and in the years to come.

ONS is committed to addressing nursing workforce levels, and its advocates educate elected officials about the need for further resources in nursing education, innovation, and development. As the population ages, nurses will have a larger role to fill in the provision of care, and the shortage could change that sooner than policy leaders realize.

House Leader Hopes for Surprise Billing Deal Soon

Some patients with insurance return home after surgery only to find unexpected bills from providers for services that they thought were covered but were given by out-of-network sources. Too often, those exorbitant charges are beyond a patient’s means to repay, putting an undue and unexpected financial burden on families. Known as balance billing—or more commonly, surprise billing—the issue has become popular on both sides of the political aisle.

Congress is seeking legislation to curtail the unexpected costs, but the current political environment isn’t lending itself to collaboration and bipartisan work. However, some optimistic lawmakers are giving patients hope. For many, financial toxicity has become almost as damaging as their diagnoses. Nurses, as the most trusted professionals in the United States, are in a key position to educate lawmakers about the patient experience, surprise billing, and the impact of financial burdens on health care.