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

Health Care Tops Financial Problems Poll

Health care is driving domestic policy agenda, and voters have shown it’s a crucial component in their decision making. The money associated with healthcare costs has been a driving factor in politics year after year. Public opinion polling found that health care is the most important factor when it comes to financial burden for Americans, reports from 2018 indicated that Americans spent more than $88 billion on health care alone.

Beyond consuming their money, healthcare costs dominate patients’ thoughts, future plans, and quality of life. Americans are closely following discussions about access obstacles, prescription medication costs, surprise billing issues, and rising deductibles. These are very real issues that affect their lives. Healthcare providers—nurses in particular—are primed to share patient stories with lawmakers, highlighting the struggle Americans face with financial toxicity.

ACA Reduced Racial Disparities, Improved Earlier Diagnosis in Cancer Care

New data released about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides revealing statistics about the healthcare bill’s downstream effects. The report shows that ACA’s Medicaid expansion helped reduce racial disparities and connected patients with earlier cancer diagnoses and treatment. Access to coverage, even at varying levels, demonstrates that disparities in diagnosis and treatment fall when more Americans can see their healthcare providers and receive preventative treatments.

In 2018, when the Trump Administration cut funding to ACA navigation, guidance, and enrollment, state governments stepped up and encouraged citizens to participate. With this effort, more people maintained coverage and cancer saw higher levels of early diagnosis and increased survivorship. As a central tenet to ONS advocacy work, members are championing access to affordable, quality care for all Americans.

FDA Project Facilitate Connects Patients to Unapproved Therapies

Announced at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Project Facilitate will connect patients with cancer to emerging, yet-to-be-approved therapies. The agency hopes to enlist oncology professions—nurses included—to help physicians facilitate the expanded access process for patients seeking unapproved therapies.

The agency is looking to expand its new program to reach patients directly as part of their cancer journey. FDA acknowledges that cancer survivors are often better educated and more aware of treatment options than other patients. But oncology nurses are key when it comes to educating consumers about novel therapies, their own disease management, and impact of treatments.