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

House Panel Approves Vaping Tax

The rise in youth vaping has cemented e-cigarettes as a scourge of the tobacco cessation community. The products have been marketed to minors, and Congress is currently reviewing several bills meant to tackle the issue. A House of Representatives panel agreed to levy a new vaping tax on e-cigarette pods, an effort that would raise prices for vaping products in the hopes of making them less appealing and accessible to teens. Even in today’s politicized and divisive environment, bipartisan consensus demonstrates that something must be done at the federal level to combat the increase in underage smoking, particularly with electronic devices.

With more than 1,600 total cases of vaping-related lung injury reported so far, a combination of the currently proposed bills would likely appease both sides of the aisle. ONS and its advocates are vital voices in those conversations—most recently at ONS’s Capitol Hill Days—and elected officials look to oncology nurses as experts in public health education and smoking cessation strategies.

Expensive Lymphedema Compression Garments Plague Patients

With more than 5 million people affected by lymphedema in the United States—and approximately 40% of all patients with breast cancer developing it at some point in their lives—many patients struggle to afford costly side-effect management tools like compression garments. An incurable, chronic issue, lymphedema can have a huge impact on a patient’s quality of life. But the problem isn’t only experienced from a health perspective; patients feel it as a financial one as well.

Compression garments are expensive, and financial toxicity is already a real concern for patients with cancer. ONS has been a strong supporter of the Lymphedema Treatment Act for several sessions of Congress, and it’s a real possibility that the bill will pass in 2019 with great bipartisan support. ONS’s researchers have been leading the way to develop resources for lymphedema interventions, including the ONS Putting Evidence Into Practice resources.

ACA Premiums to Fall in 2020

Premiums for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will either drop or remain mostly stable heading into 2020, according to recent reports. Despite the Trump administration’s previous actions to repeal the 2010 healthcare law, Americans are still enjoying the coverage it provides at lower premiums for a second year in a row. Yet, with limited support from the Trump administration, outreach, education, and enrollment in the ACA marketplace may continue to drop.

No one—not even former Obama administration officials—suggested that the ACA was perfect. But the results of the comprehensive law have provided greater insurance access for millions of Americans in need of healthcare coverage. When the law experienced rough patches, state officials leapt to support it, recruiting private insurers cover previously existing holes and gaps in coverage for certain communities. Not every health plan is equal, but processes are in place to ensure ACA access for Americans. ONS supports greater access to affordable, quality care, and ONS advocates are key to educating and informing elected officials about how access affects patients with cancer.