By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Director of Health Policy

ACA Could Potentially Become Expanded Medicaid

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.

If the healthcare debate in Washington continues in a stalemate and more insurance companies leave the ACA’s exchange, some insurance experts think expanding access to Medicaid may be the only way to keep millions of Americans insured. This would essentially create a single-payer, government based health insurance system for those without employer-based insurance plans. As the healthcare issue continues to evolve, ONS will continue to fight for affordable access to quality cancer care.

Smoking More Prevalent in Low Socioeconomic Individuals

According to reports, tobacco use among Americans continues to fall as more individuals are embracing the dangers associated with its use. Smoking rates have dropped to historic lows with only 15% of adults reporting that they smoke. However, these statistics may hide a deeper truth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking rates among the nation’s undereducated and lower class—high school equivalency or below—still remain at more than 40%. Many of the reported statistics show that smoking is still prevalent among the lower class in the United States.

This poses a serious problem for advocacy groups still fighting to see smoking eradicated in all groups. With middle- and high-income individuals seeing fewer and fewer smokers, the call for smoking cessation funding and education has started to dwindle. In lower socioeconomic settings, smoking is still a major driver of health issues. ONS continues to work against tobacco use, encouraging smoking cessation tactics and cancer risk education. 

Provider, Patient Communication Still Needs Improvement

In an article from KHN.org, a patient describes his experience with cancer and the difficulties in asking the tough questions. It seems that for some, patients aren’t getting the answers they need. Whether that’s because they don’t want to hear those answers or because the providers can’t give them is still up for debate. Either way, it’s an area where communication can be improved. Addressing difficult questions and having the tough conversations has always been key to oncology nursing. This is just another area where nurses can offer their expertise and education to patients with cancer.

Articles about patients with cancer, the challenges of therapies, and the evolution of treatment are becoming more commonplace in national publications like The New York Times and the Washington Post. These stories offer lawmakers and potential voters insight into the treatment process. However, as these articles continue to emerge, it’s becoming clear that communication between patients and providers still needs to be improved.

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