NIH Funds Precision Research for Childhood Cancer; Will Congress Lift Medicaid Ban for Opioid Epidemic?; FDA-Approved Breast Cancer Test May Impact Oncology Nurses
Cancer treatments aren’t one-size-fits-all, and they differ greatly depending on age. As the leading cause of disease-related death for children, pediatric cancers pose a critical threat to this population. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one reason pediatric cancer mortality rates persist is because there’s “limited knowledge” related to the biological mechanisms affecting childhood cancers. NIH-funded studies are breaking ground and uncovering new information about the genomics of pediatric cancers.
FDA Approves First Metastasis-Free Endpoint Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Breakthroughs and new treatments are moving faster than ever. Getting treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is crucial whenever new options are making way to patients with cancer. In February 2018, the FDA approved apalutamide for the treatment of nonmetastatic prostate cancer that continues to grow despite treatment with hormone therapy, the first FDA-approved treatment for nonmetastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Cancer Prevention Is Political Pillow Talk
On February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day, I had the honor of representing the ONS at the Congressional Families Caucus with Alec Stone, ONS director for public affairs, who made the connection between Congressional Families and ONS. The Congressional Families Caucus is made up of spouses of congressional members serving in the House of Representatives and Senate.
New HHS Secretary Azar Aims to Tackle Drug Prices, Affordable Care
On January 24, 2018, the Senate officially confirmed the nomination of Alex Azar, the newest secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Azar replaces former HHS secretary Tom Price, a physician who stepped down in late 2017. Although confirmed along party lines, Azar’s long governmental experience had plenty of support despite his past connections to the pharmaceutical industry.
Bipartisan Bill Unveiled to Fight Opioid Epidemic; FDA Renews Commitment to Curb Tobacco Use; Walker Embraces Obamacare for Wisconsin Residents
In 2016, former President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recover Act (CARA) into law. Since then, some aspects of drug addiction have been decriminalized and refocused as medical issues, helping to remove some of the stigma associated with addiction. Although CARA is a start when tackling addiction issues, several senators—both Republican and Democrat—want to take it a step farther in the national fight against opioid abuse.
President’s Budget Proposal Recommends Severe Cuts to HHS
Putting together the federal budget is an arduous task. Department by department, suggestions for program funding increases and decreases are reviewed, discussed, analyzed, and submitted. Budget officials are trying to match the administration’s priorities and review the fiscal environment, not to mention craft spending items to gain support from congress, who ultimately votes on the budget.
2018 U.S. Budget Agreement Contains Key Wins for ONS—Plus an Area of Concern
The U.S. Congress continued its budget pattern in February, enacting another extension of the 2017 budget agreement into law on February 8, 2018. The current iteration of the budget law will raise caps on defense and non-defense spending over two years and keep the federal government running through March 23, but more importantly, it includes the following provisions of special interest to ONS.
States Have a Role in Creating Public Health Policies
The federal government structure in Washington, DC, is hard to ignore. U.S. children are taught about it in schools, and we hear about it regularly as elections, legislation, appointments, and the like are discussed in the news. Less recognized, though, is that each state has a similar legislative structure.
Trump Signs RAISE Act, Pledging Support Services to Family Caregivers
Family members are often the first people to step into the caregiver role when a loved one gets sick. However, studies show that caregivers face unintended burdens and potential consequence as a result of the support and care they give to loved ones.
First Session of the 115th U.S. Congress Will See Three Oncology-Related Acts
Thousands of pieces of legislation are introduced in each Congress, but only a small percentage make it through the entire process, especially in that first year. Bills that are not voted into law and signed by the president during that two-year period “die” when the second session is completed and Congress adjourns. According to congressional rules, “A bill may be introduced at any point during a two-year Congress. It will remain eligible for consideration throughout the duration of that Congress until the Congress ends or adjourns sine die.”
APNs Have a Role in Leading Value-Based Care
Recent care delivery models have focused on providing value-based care to patients. The changes provide opportunity for APNs to take a leadership role in implementing models and systems to effectively deliver that care. Here’s what APNs need to know about the new models.
White House Commission Reports on Drug Addiction and Opioid Epidemic
In the past few years, drug abuse and opioid addiction levels have grown to epidemic proportions. In 2016, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to decriminalize drug use and reclassify addiction as a disease. After President Obama signed CARA into law, the bill allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to combat the epidemic, alongside funding for Americans in need of addiction treatment and support.
FDA to Improve Review of Shared REMS Strategies for Generic Drugs
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioners will commonly use their roles to enact new changes that can have a lasting effect on public health for years to come. Despite only being in his position for a few months, Scott Gottlieb, MD, is on track to make a real impression as the head of the FDA.
Despite Awareness, 20% of American Adults Use Tobacco Products
It’s been 20 years since a panel of tobacco executives stood before Congress and admitted that their products were both addictive and linked to cancer. Since then, Americans have shifted their understanding about the use of tobacco products in ways not previously thought possible. These changes in perception and behavior are due in part to the public health initiatives and anti-tobacco campaigns of the last two decades.
How the FDA Provides New Approaches to Old Problems
Every quadrennial presidential cycle, as the newly elected leader moves into the Oval Office, he selects a core group of advisors who are philosophically aligned and eager to make changes in the federal government’s process. However, this is often not as simple as the new administration believes.
New Director Sworn in at NCI
For the past two years, an acting director has served at the head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). However, President Trump recently selected Norman E. Sharpless, MD, as the 15th director of the NCI. Sharpless, an oncologist with research and clinical experience, said he was humbled by the selection and is looking forward to carrying on NCI’s great mission.
HHS Announces Opioid Crisis Prevention Program
Prescription drug abuse and overdose has reached epic proportions in the United States. In 2016, President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act into law to reclassify drug abuse as a disease and not a crime. Additionally, millions of dollars of federal aid were set aside to help combat the scourge. In September 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement committing the department to the cause.
Advocacy Can Make a Difference
As part of its mission, ONS honors and maintains nursing’s historical and essential commitment to advocacy for the public good. Working collaboratively with policymakers, cancer and nursing community advocates, and other stakeholders at the local, state, federal, and international levels, ONS seeks to integrate the nursing perspective throughout the policymaking process and urges that oncology nurses be appointed to all relevant federal panels, committees, commissions, and boards. During its September conference call, the ONS Board of Directors focused on two key areas of ONS advocacy.
Trump Cuts Obamacare Subsidies; Trump Announces Hargan as New Acting HHS Secretary; Norman Sharpless Sworn in as NCI Director
President Trump signed an executive order ending key payments to insurers selling plans in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. The GOP has attempted to repeal and replace ACA, known as Obamacare, several times in 2017 with little success. Trump’s move is seen as the most recent attempt to dismantled Obamacare without the need for legislation. The Trump administration released a statement citing the legality of the funding as reason to withhold payments of more than $7 billion to health insurers as part of ACA’s cost-sharing reduction payments.
FDA Simplifies IRB Requirements for Individual Patient Expanded Access
On October 3, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced updates to three final guidance documents, including Form FDA 3926 and its instructions, to simplify Institutional Review Board (IRB) review requirements for physicians seeking to treat an individual patient with an investigational drug under expanded access. The updates allow for a waiver of the requirement for review and approval at a convened IRB meeting if the physician instead obtains concurrence by the IRB chairperson (or a designated IRB member) before treatment use begins.
Sanders Gains Support for Single-Payer Health Care Push; GOP Senators Put Forth Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill; New Toolkit Helps Nurses Integrate Genomics in Cancer Care
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently gave an interview for The Nation to discuss his announcement and subsequent push for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States. During his 2016 presidential bid, Sanders campaigned for universal health care and gained significant support from the public. However, many on Capitol Hill were still unsure of a “Medicare-for-all” plan. Despite the initially tepid response, Sanders recently outlined a new single-payer healthcare bill he plans to introduce, and he’s gaining surprising support from several senators in Washington, DC.
All Politics, Even Health Policy, Is Local
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill was fond of saying, “All politics is local.” What he meant was, if an elected official took care of the constituents back home, then whatever happened in Washington, DC, wouldn’t matter as much. Whatever issues most affected voters in the legislative district, then that is where members of Congress should spend their time.
Nursing Is One of America’s Most Dangerous Professions; Uninsured Rates Fall to 8.8%; Senate Authorizes Five-Year CHIP Deal
Nursing isn’t always just about treating illness. At times, patients are unruly, combative, and even downright dangerous to staff. Nurses are the ones standing front and center when an upset patient erupts, and it happens more often than the uninitiated public may think. A recent article in the Washington Post, catalogs some of the harrowing violence nurses have seen in the line of duty, dubbing it one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. Patients aren’t always the sole source of danger either—as illustrated by the recent assault of a Utah nurse, Alex Wubbels, by a Salt Lake City police detective.
ONS Supports Medicare Coverage of Lymphedema Compression Supplies
On August 25, 2017, ONS submitted comments to the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee in response to its Medicare Red Tape Relief Project. The initiative, sponsored by subcommittee chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH), asked providers for input on ways to improve health care for seniors and reduce Medicare regulations and mandates.
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.
The Impact of PCHETA on the Quality of Cancer Care
As a national nursing organization with a specialty in cancer care, ONS occupies a unique space in the healthcare public policy environment. When nurses speak, decision makers listen, because nurses are the most trusted healthcare providers. This is not an insignificant fact to those who decide how to implement health policy decisions through law and the regulatory system.
Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a National Emergency; Recent Poll Shows Health Care, Government Most Important to Americans; FDA Launches Campaign to Fight Youth E-Cigarette Use
Experts currently estimate that opioid addiction kills nearly 100 Americans every day, and the scale of the problem is continuing to grow. In response, President Trump to unofficially declared the opioid crisis a national emergency during a public statement from his golf resort in Bedminster, NJ, on August 10, 2017.
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.
Senate Republicans Unveil Replacement Healthcare Bill; Single-Payer Healthcare System Would Have High Price Tag; FDA Commissioner Comments on 2016 Youth Tobacco Survey Results
On June 22, 2017, Republican senators unveiled their version of the bill repeal and replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, known to most as Obamacare. The Senate bill looks similar to the House-backed healthcare bill passed in May 2017. Central to the Senate’s bill are proposed cuts to Medicaid expansion, along with eliminating a net investment income tax that impacts higher earners. The proposed bill provides more tax subsidies for lower-income individuals than its sister bill from the House of Representatives, but it’s still expected to raise costs for poorer Americans.
ACA Could Potentially Become Expanded Medicaid; Smoking More Prevalent in Low Socioeconomic Individuals; Provider, Patient Communication Still Needs Improvement
In Washington, DC, the healthcare debate rages on. Currently, Republican senators are working behind closed doors to modify and change the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA). As it stands, the AHCA is the replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known to most Americans as Obamacare. While legislators continue to debate in Washington, the insurance marketplace carries on. United Healthcare recently announced its departure from the ACA’s marketplace exchange, another in list of insurance companies that have chosen to leave.
ONS Lobbies for Breast Cancer Screening Act in Congress
Alongside congressional representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Susan Brooks, ONS and other organizations are lobbying for support of the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act. This legislation would push insurance companies—along with the Veterans Health Administration—to provide access and coverage to breast cancer screenings for women aged 40–49.
FDA Commissioner Aims to Address Drug Pricing Issues; House Republicans Propose 12-Bill Appropriations Omnibus; Adults Don’t Recognize Harm of Vaping Around Kids
Since the campaign trail prior to the presidential election, Donald Trump has been drawing focus to the issue of high drug prices in the United States. In an effort combat the pricing issues, Trump appointed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, who recently announced the creation of the “drug competition action plan.” The plan would reduce the high cost of drugs in U.S. healthcare market by increasing the efficiency of approving generic medications of name-brand drugs.
Nursing Workforce Faces Looming Shortage; Budget Proposal Cuts $636 Billion From HHS Agencies; CBO Issues Evaluation on AHCA
With an increasing number of baby boomers—both leaving the nursing profession and finding themselves in need of care—a workforce shortage is continuing to challenge the nursing industry. Recent reports have also indicated that educators in nursing programs have dropped off, leading to fewer nursing graduates. Some educational institutions are seeking accelerated programs to meet the demands of the growing healthcare market.
Senate Obamacare Working Group Expands; Gottlieb, MD, Named FDA Commissioner; Bipartisan Commitment to Healthcare Delivery System Reform
As legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act works its way into the Senate, a new working group is attempting tackle the issue through tax breaks that would potentially ease healthcare costs. However, when the working group was formed, some Republican Senators were left out of the discussion—namely women senators in the GOP. After receiving flack for the decision, the working group officially opened its doors to anyone in the Republican convention.
Nurse Assumes Acting U.S. Surgeon General’s Position at HHS
As new presidential administrations come in, top politically appointed positions are customarily asked to submit letters of resignations as a courtesy to the incoming president. This was no different when President Trump entered the White House.
HHS Announces Opioid Crisis Prevention Program
Prescription drug abuse has reached epic proportions in the United States. Efforts have been made to help combat this growing issue. In 2016, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to reclassify drug abuse as a disease instead of a crime.
Annual State-of-Cancer Report Encouraging for Patients, Providers
The latest edition of the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2014, confirms that death rates are decreasing for 11 of the 16 most common types of cancer in men and 13 of the 18 most common types in women.
NIH Gets $2 Billion in Additional Funding; Senators Await CBO Score on AHCA; AHRQ Director Touts Importance of Nursing
In March 2017, President Trump issued what was called his “skinny budget.” The name refers to the short length of his proposed budget document, as well as the draconian cuts it brought to almost every federal agency.
Nurse Becomes Acting Surgeon General; Representative Roybal-Allard Calls for Funding Scientific Research; Gottlieb Nomination for FDA Commissioner Sent to Senate
After former President Obama’s surgeon general was asked to resign by the Trump administration, the White House appointed Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN, as acting surgeon general.
Federal Healthcare Legislation in a Divided America
“Obamacare is the law of the land.” And thus ended the debate over repeal and replace of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), as Paul Ryan (R-WI), the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives left the podium Friday afternoon on March 24.
Executive Order to Fight Opioid Epidemic; Trump Administration Proposes Cuts to Spending in 2017 and 2018; White House Supports April as Cancer Control Month
President Trump is a preparing a new executive order that would outline recommendations for the nation’s fight against opioid addiction. According to report released in STAT, the executive order would form a commission of four top Trump aides, including Attorney General Jeffery Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Defense Secretary James Mattis. The commission would be led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and would be fleshed out with another five other yet-to-be-named officials from the state government level, law enforcement, and other areas potentially impacted by the national crisis.
GOP Unable to Secure Support for AHCA; Senators Introduce Women’s Health Bill; Americans Worried About Insurance Access, Coverage
After the GOP spent weeks lobbying for support, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) informed President Trump on March 24 that the replacement healthcare proposal, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), did not have enough support in the House of Representatives. The bill was pulled from voting, which ensured that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be in place for the foreseeable future. The Republican party failed to garner enough support for the bill, with some moderates fearing it would strand many without access to health care, whereas more conservative factions believed the AHCA didn’t dismantle enough portions of the ACA.
GOP Announces Healthcare Replacement Plan; CMS Nominee Confirmed; Secretary Price Discusses Repeal, Replace
On March 8, 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The AHCA is becoming known to many on Capitol Hill as Trumpcare, and it’s already facing stiff opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike. Many conservative Republicans are calling it Obamacare 2.0 and expected a full repeal of the ACA. Moderate Republicans are unlikely to support the bill, because it could potentially strand millions without insurance coverage provided by the ACA.