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

Bipartisan Bills Would Curb Youth Tobacco Use

In a bold move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Thursday that he would put forward a bill to raise the national age for tobacco product purchases to age 21. It’s a remarkable move on many levels, not the least of which is that McConnell is from Kentucky—a region of the country that produces tobacco products. More importantly though, McConnell made a public statement about the rise in youth consumption through vaping.

His acknowledgement, in conjunction with the Democratic House versions of similar bills, will make it a bipartisan issue. Moreover, many state legislatures are already raising the age at the local level, but a federal law would supersede any state that refuses to do so. ONS is a leader in this effort as well by championing tobacco cessation efforts.

GOP Senators Introduce Act Protecting Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions

Health care was the most important issue in the 2018 midterm elections, and a candidate’s stance on protections for pre-existing conditions was paramount to voters. Now several Republican senators are making good on their campaign promises by putting forward the Protect Act, a provision that would protect patients with pre-existing conditions, regardless of the status of the Affordable Care Act.

With both sides of the aisle discussing different ways to tackle the healthcare issues in the United States, any future law would include provisions to protect patients with pre-existing conditions—like cancer—to ensure they have access to affordable health insurance.

Patient Protection Is Central to Healthcare Reform

In an opinion piece from Real Clear Health, the author outlines areas of political consensus between parties, saying that regardless of affiliation, Americans and their representatives agree on more areas of support than we disagree. These include reducing the prices of extremely expensive medications, easing unnecessary regulation burdens, removing barriers to the critical transformation of our health system to pay for the value of care delivered, and protecting patients with pre-existing conditions.

Those issues are top priorities in the healthcare reform conversation, but a divided government will have to work to ensure safety net programs to cover millions of people with chronic diseases. ONS advocates regularly educate elected officials on the role of the nurse in health care and the impact that cancer has on patients and their families.