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

Bipartisan Senators Unveil Proposal to Crack Down on Surprise Medical Bills

The financial toxicity associated with cancer care is becoming a widely known side effect of cancer treatment. Beyond the disease's physical impact, patients are suffering from overwhelming medical costs, high prescription drug prices, and unforeseen, expensive complications. Those issues, often coupled with the inability to work, are leading to many patients quickly depleting their savings or slipping into debt.

In an effort to address the rising costs of care, a bipartisan group of senators released draft measures aiming to crack down on unexpected medical bills. It's becoming a popular issue in Washington, DC, and bipartisan groups are working to move legislation forward. Oncology nurses are in the prime position to advocate for their patients by educating lawmakers and sharing important financial resources with patients and caregivers.  

Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill to Curb Opioid Crisis

In early September 2018, the Senate was working to determine the important details to include in its opioid legislation. On September 17, 2018, the upper chamber passed its version of the bill to address the national opioid epidemic. To move forward to the president’s desk, the Senate’s legislation will need to be reconciled with the House's opioid bill from earlier in summer 2018.

Garnering near-unanimous support, the Senate opioid package addresses the national epidemic by eliminating illegal drug trafficking and shipping processes, improving access to opioid addiction treatments, and providing necessary grant funding for states and municipalities hit hardest by the epidemic. As the bill nears completion, ONS will weigh in on the importance of balancing regulation with access to necessary pain medications for patients with cancer.

FDA Cracks Down on E-Cigarettes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued its strongest warning to e-cigarette companies yet. Since his confirmation, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, has championed more than just smoking cessation. He's been an activist, restricting the reach of big tobacco companies as they try to increase their hold on nicotine-dependent customers. Gottlieb has expanded FDA's authority related to tobacco advertising and marketing, especially campaigns that target young adults.

FDA just announced a youth e-cigarette component of its highly successful Real Cost campaign, which will continue to inform Americans about the debilitating effects of tobacco use. Because the current administration's focus has mostly favored deregulating the government's influence on businesses, it's a welcomed surprise that the White House gave FDA approval to continue its efforts. ONS and its members advocate for further smoking cessation policy as part of the Society's commitment to tobacco control.