By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer/Producer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director
McSally’s Proposal to Address Prescription Drug Costs
Drug pricing is a top legislative issue for Congress, and amid rising COVID-19 concerns, health policy topics are more pressing than ever. On March 5, Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced the Lowering Prescription Drug Prices for America’s Seniors and Families Act of 2020, which would allow Medicare to negotiate prices after a drug’s patent expires as well as cap out-of-pocket prescription spending for seniors at $3,100 per year.
The bill would mark the first time Medicare services could negotiate drug prices, a contentious area for many Republican officials. Because McSally’s drug pricing proposal concentrates on seniors through Medicare, it may gain bipartisan favor. But with elections in November 2020, time is running out for the current congressional session and fewer items are being put to committee for discussion.
COVID-19 Healthcare Worker Safety Legislation
In the whirlwind of information and media stories about COVID-19, what’s missing is the conversation about healthcare providers on the front lines. Their safety is vital as the nation addresses the global pandemic. On March 10, House Democrats introduced the COVID-19 Worker Protection Act of 2020 (H.R. 6139), directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement a strategy within 30 days to outline necessary requirements to protect the healthcare workforce.
Donna Shalala (D-FL), one of the bill’s key champions, is a nurse by trade and supports vital OSHA to drive safe practice in workplaces throughout the country. With growing personal protective equipment demand, some oncology nurses are already experiencing supply shortages from the COVID-19 outbreak. To drive the conversation, nurses must share their experiences and speak out for professional safety by educating elected officials. Join the conversation through ONS’s advocacy efforts.
Drug Prices Have Outpaced Inflation
Prescription medication costs have a stark financial impact on families throughout the United States. In his March 5 remarks, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, detailed the price increase of prescription drugs through the past decade and outlined ways that families are struggling under the growing financial burden.
Grassley focused on many drugs that are life-saving treatments for patients with cancer. Oncology nurses are keenly aware of the effects of financial toxicity on patients and their family members and are central to addressing the issue in practice. ONS advocates are working to secure support for the Oral Cancer Drug Parity Act (H.R. 1730), among other key legislation to protect and address access and affordability issues in the healthcare conversation.