Advanced Cancer Screening Coverage; ACA Remains Strong; Medicare for All Cost
Precision medicine has a been a hot topic in health care for years now, but costs and coverage issues have created challenges to get patients the genetic testing they need at an affordable cost. In a memo from October 29, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed extending Medicare coverage to pay for genetic sequencing tests for certain hereditary types of ovarian and breast cancer.
HHS Secretary Azar Addresses American Cancer Society on Healthcare Delivery System
Reaching a broad audience, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar spoke to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network in early September 2019 about the state of healthcare delivery in the United States and outlined the Trump administration’s priorities. Azar praised advocates for being leaders in promoting more investments for education, prevention, and research, and he noted the laudable achievements thus far.
FDA Calls Out Juul; Opioid Crackdown; States Tackle Drug Pricing
With more deaths reported from vaping and a forceful U.S. Senate declaration to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acting commissioner to either enact stronger federal provisions restricting e-cigarettes, flavored tobacco, and inhalants or resign, the Trump administration moved quickly to demonstrate a recognition that cessation is a national, bipartisan concern. FDA sent a warning letter to Juul about its marketing and labeling, and the president, Health and Human Services secretary, and FDA commissioner issued very public statements on the matter, making it clear that federal oversight will be enforced on youth tobacco issues.
Access to Care and Nondiscrimination Are Two Key Ways to Address Cancer Disparities, According to ONS and ANA Position Statements
Cancer knows no race, color, nationality, or ethnicity. But although any person may one day develop cancer, incidence and mortality rates for some cancers are disproportionately higher in certain racial, ethnic, geographic, or socioeconomic groups. Here are just a few of the many identified cancer disparities, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Durbin Calls Out FDA; Medicare for All Support; Cancer Mortality Drops
In a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) shared harsh criticism for the agency’s lack of attention to the youth smoking epidemic. His letter from May 29, 2019, detailed efforts that the agency could be taking to curb the rise in youth tobacco use. The smoking cessation community, of which ONS is a palpable member, has sided with Durbin on the importance of continued FDA oversight on e-cigarettes and the vaping industry’s kid-friendly, fun-flavored tobacco products. Groups like the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids have been forceful in comments to the agency about the need for stricter regulations on products.
CMS’s Final Medicare Part D Ruling Preserves Patient Access to Certain Cancer Drugs
Medicare Part D will continue to give patients access to certain cancer drugs, according Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS’s) final ruling issued May 16, 2019. The final rule does not allow for utilization controls like step therapy and prior authorizations for patients who are already in an established treatment regimen; does not restrict drugs that have had certain price increases over a specified time period; and does not restrict new formulations of an existing protected class drug.
Oncology Urgent Care Clinics Are an Emerging Setting for Cancer Care Delivery
Patients with cancer are living longer, embarking on complex treatment regimens, and experiencing more complications associated with care. As a result, a large volume of patients with cancer require urgent or emergency visits throughout their disease trajectory. Although the need remains constant, what has evolved over time are the chief complaints that bring patients in, the care associated with complications, and new options to lower the burden and cost of care.
Opioid Access; Smoking Age Increase; House Medicare for All
Efforts to curb the national opioid epidemic have taken shape in several ways, including redefined prescription guidelines. However, many insurers are now like the ones commonly prescribed to patients with cancer. For years, ONS has been meeting with congressional offices to advocate that access to prescription opioids for cancer survivors should be exempt from the strict limits assigned to other diagnoses. It’s always been a successful strategy, because related to severe pain management, quality of life, and end-of-life care.
Government Shutdown; ACA Ruled Invalid; Medicare for All Push
On January 3, 2019, the newly elected, Democrat-controlled House of Representatives introduced legislation to reopen the federal government and end the current shutdown. It’s not about the money, which is usually the case; it’s about the blame. The border wall funding—in whatever capacity—is politically driving the shutdown. But Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that he knows the president will veto. Democrats want that to happen to force the president to either accept the blame for the shutdown or to cave without funding for the wall and reopen the government.
Pre-Existing Conditions; Overcharging Prescription Drugs; Opposing Medicare for All
Although the Democrats have yet not formally taken control of the House of Representatives, many are primed and passionate about holding the Trump administration accountable after the November midterm elections. Through involvement in committees and as incoming chairs of powerful oversight panels, lawmakers are .
Medicare for All; New Congressional Priorities; Health Finance Committee
With more than 70% of Americans supporting expanded Medicare, the single-payer Medicare for All rallying cry has gained significant support among progressives and moderates alike. A recent editorial report makes the case for its adoption with strong evidence from an economic point of view. During the November 2018 midterm election campaign, many incumbent Republicans—some of whom previously voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act—now promised to uphold sections of the law, including protections for pre-existing conditions as their most important campaign commitment.
Dems on Health Care; Obamacare Enrollment; Pricey Precision Medicine
To Rally Voters, Democrats Focus on Health Care as Their Closing Argument
Although many states are already collecting early votes, Tuesday, November 6, 2018, will tell the full tale of the midterm elections. Many Democrats are emphasizing their focus on health care in the final days and hours before the election. By most measurable public opinion poll, health care remains the most important domestic issue for voters.
Lower Drug Prices; Democrat Dealmakers; Republicans Support Medicare Expansion
Fighting the cost of soaring prescription medications is a winning issue with tremendous bipartisan support. And reigning in exorbitant drug prices means patients will be the real winners. Recently, President Trump lauded his administration’s work to fight against high prescription drug costs, citing new efforts to reduce other countries from taking advantage of drug pricing.
Drug Pricing in Ads; Cancer Fertility Preservation; American Healthcare Panic
Addressing the high cost of prescription medications has been an ongoing focus for the Trump administration. Its latest move, requiring drug companies to list their product’s market price on consumer ads, is an added level of transparency that didn’t exist before. Whether the decree will have an impact remains to be seen, but it may add some trust to the process.
CMS Administrator Shares Three Points to Bolster Medicaid
During a recent speech at the 2018 Medicaid Management Care Summit, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma expressed a continued commitment to Medicaid’s legacy of supporting Americans in need.
Opioid Package Passes; Cheap Insurance Policies; Drug Patent Laws
For months, bipartisan lawmakers have worked together to build an opioid package aimed to tackle the nation’s abuse epidemic. After rounds of revisions and finally making it through both chambers of the House and Senate, the legislation is on its way to the president’s desk. The bill focuses funding efforts on addiction recovery programs and cracking down on the illegal medication trafficking.
Obamacare Premiums Stabilize; Senate Opioid Package; Medicare for All Questions
Millions of Americans depend on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace for their health insurance. In the past, costs have been unstable, seeing insurance premiums rise and competition flee. However, new reports estimate that Americans who receive health coverage from ACA will only see moderate increases to their premiums for 2019. During earlier repeal and replace efforts of Obamacare—otherwise known as ACA—the healthcare marketplace was volatile for consumers. Some insurers pulled out of the marketplace, leaving those that remained able to sharply increase premiums.
VA and NCI Collaborate on Access to Cancer Clinical Trials
A new cross-government program is underway to improve veterans’ access to clinical cancer trials. Together with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Interagency Group to Accelerate Trials Enrollment launched in 12 VA facilities in summer 2018.
Trump Administration Forced to Help to ACA; As Dems Campaign on Pre-Existing Conditions, Republicans Move In; Incidence of Pre-Existing Conditions Varies Across the United States
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), each state has the right to create its own basic healthcare system within its own jurisdictions. Currently, only New York and Minnesota have made such systems available to residents who are just over the limit to qualify for Medicaid. Those individuals receive their health care from the state—until the Trump administration eliminated certain aspects of ACA that provided federal funding for these programs. After suing to overturn the administration’s ruling, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a settlement that would pay close to half a billion dollars to New York and Minnesota to support the affected plans.
If You Are Young and Have Cancer, Help Can Be Hard to Find; Health Secretary Says Agency Has Power to Eliminate Drug Rebates; Trump Administration Needs to Step Up on Obamacare
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.
House and Senate Pass the Childhood Cancer STAR Act
On May 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.B. 292, the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act. The legislation will improve efforts to identify and track childhood cancer incidence, improve quality of life for childhood cancer survivors, ensure pediatric expertise at the National Institutes of Health by requiring the National Cancer Advisory Board to have at least one pediatric oncology expert on its board, and identify opportunities to increase childhood cancer research to better treat the 10,270 children diagnosed with cancer in the United States every year.
CDC Promotes World Cancer Day 2018
On February 4, 2018, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) annual World Cancer Day will aim to raise cancer awareness and support in a unified, global effort. The CDC’s efforts focus on cancer research and prevention, as well as improving services to patients with cancer, understanding and sharing common sentiments related to cancer, and mobilizing the global community against the disease.
House Passes CHIP Reauthorization Bill, Helps Insure Children With Cancer
On November 3, 2017, the House of Representatives passed HR 3922, the Championing Healthy Kids Act, which reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program for an additional five years. The act also reauthorizes public health programs. Previous funding for the CHIP program had expired September 30, 2017.
Former HHS Secretaries Urge Trump to Support ACA; Every U.S. County Will Have ACA Marketplace Option; Government May Look to Continuing Resolution to Prevent Shutdown
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is likely here to stay. After previous attempts to repeal and replace the nation’s healthcare legislation, the Senate has finally moved on to other issues. However, this hasn’t stopped President Trump from attempting to undercut some of the financial components of the ACA. Recently, former Health and Human Services (HHS) secretaries from both the Democrats and Republicans urged Trump to support ACA subsidies that could affect the cost of more than 10 million American’s healthcare plans.
21st Century Cures Is a Broad Law That Impacts Narrow Categories
“Congress is working together on a nonpartisan issue that will have a profound effect on the lives of all Americans. H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, will bring our health care innovation infrastructure into the 21st Century, delivering hope for patients and loved ones and providing necessary resources to researchers to continue their efforts to uncover the next generation of cures and treatments,” Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) discussed their vision for the 21st Century Cures initiative in April 2014.
What Is ONS’s Stance on Handling Chemotherapy While Pregnant, Breastfeeding, or Trying to Conceive?
One of the questions that ONS commonly receives in the clinical inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) is whether nurses who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive can safely administer or handle chemotherapy and other hazardous drugs.