By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director
Dems’ Budget Fight Begins With Health Care
Democrats control the majority of the House of Representatives, and it’s their responsibility to provide and pass a U.S. budget. As with any Congress, it’s always easier said than done. With a larger, more progressive freshman class interested in pushing more environmental, health, and welfare policy issues forward, costs will be a concern.
Medicare for All, a specific highlight for Democrats, would be a massive undertaking—financially and otherwise—and progressive policy issues like that will likely put Democrats from moderate swing districts at odds with their own party members. Enlarging programs and expanding Medicare could get messy, and the House will get no help from the Republican-controlled Senate with differing core policy ideals. As budgets begin to form, ONS will continue to advocate for research, access, and affordability measures.
Congress Questions Pharma CEOs About High Drug Prices
On February 26, 2019, the Senate Finance Committee met with seven pharmaceutical representatives to discuss prescription medication pricing and its implication on Americans. It was a remarkable hearing on prescription drug costs. Senators from both parties grilled pharmaceutical reps about the increasing drug costs, profits, and prices that limit patient access to prescription medications. At times, senators praised the industry for life-saving advancements, but they always came back to what they called an arbitrary and convoluted system working best for shareholders but not for patients.
Several senators told the executives that if the private sector could not find a way to get pricing to a more affordable level for patients, then Congress was very likely to step in and do it for them. Few issues are as bipartisan, and have the support of the White House, as drug pricing. These are just the first hearings on this issue, but ONS continues to advocate for affordable and accessible health care for patients and cancer survivors.
Patients Face Financial Struggles, Confusion After Cancer Diagnosis
Financial toxicity is becoming one of the most pressing problems for patients with cancer. In a recent story for NPR, patient Carol Marley recounted the financial troubles that came with her cancer diagnosis. She said, "I have faith in God that my cancer is not going to kill me." But Marley, who lives in Round Rock, TX, noted, "I have a harder time believing that this is going to get straightened out and isn't going to harm us financially. That's the leap of faith that I'm struggling with."
Because of issues like financial toxicity, oncology nurses know why it’s important to be an effective advocate with decision makers. Lives are at stake. ONS speaks truth to power about patient-centered care and the many aspects of survivorship that traditionally are not included in those conversations. Nurses are the most trusted profession and help make a significant difference for their patients. ONS carries that message to the halls of Congress—and we are heard.