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.

According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office, cutting ACA payments is expected to result in more than 1 million more uninsured Americans and a premium increase of nearly 20%. The move has already caused spikes in ACA plan premiums in some states. Moreover, some reports have noted that the states most directly hit by ending the ACA subsidies are those that voted for President Trump during his presidential campaign. ONS will continue to work with elected officials and policymakers to emphasize the importance of access to quality cancer care for all Americans.

Trump Announces Hargan as New Acting HHS Secretary

Tom Price, former secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), stepped down from his position in September after reports that he cost taxpayers an excess of $1 million for his private and government travel. To fill the vacancy, the Trump administration has appointed Eric Hargan as HHS’s acting secretary. Previously, Hargan served HHS during the Bush administration, and prior to that was a lawyer in Chicago.

Hargan was confirmed as HHS deputy secretary just a week before Price stepped down. Because he is a long-time HHS official, it will be interesting to see where Hargan stands on the GOP’s attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With Trump’s recent spending cuts to ACA subsidies, Hargan may find himself busy defending the decision. Whatever the case, ONS will continue to advocate for oncology nursing as one of its central priorities. By working alongside elected and appointed government officials, ONS and its members are driving change in health policy at a local, state, and national level. Learn more about ONS advocacy, and join your voice to the countless others standing up for their profession.

Norman Sharpless Sworn in as NCI Director

On October 17, 2017, Norman Sharpless, MD, was sworn in as the new National Cancer Institute (NCI) director. Previous to his appoint as NCI director, Sharpless worked as director of University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He replaces acting-director Douglas Lowry, who has held the role since 2015.

While serving as NCI director, Sharpless will also continue his research to understand the biology of aging. He is particularly interested in learning about the conversation of self-renewing cells into dysfunctional cancer cells as people grow older. His past research has centered around aging and new therapeutic options for lung cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma.