Eliminating Private Insurance; Raising the Smoking Age; HPV Vaccine Recommendation

July 08, 2019 by Chris Pirschel ONS Staff Writer/Producer, and Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Government Affairs Director

Eliminating Private Insurance Splits Democratic Candidates

Candidates in the first Democratic presidential debate spent some time addressing issues related to healthcare access. In point-blank questions, they were asked what they might do in support of Medicare for All, especially whether they’d be in favor of eliminating private insurance companies. Many were supportive of the overarching legislation, some were wary of eliminating insurance companies outright (https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/451263-nixing-private-insurance-divides-medicare-for-all-candidates), and others flat out opposed it.

According to public opinion polls, most Americans are warming to the idea of Medicare for All if they can keep their preferred providers (https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/451362-most-favor-medicare-for-all-if-they-can-keep-doctors-poll). No one seems terribly upset at the notion of the insurance industry losing out on profits to ensure more Americans have more coverage. The presidential debates are just getting started, and health care will remain a hot-button issue (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/candidates-position-will-matter-to-voters-especially-health-care) for candidates. Look for it to be a cornerstone in both parties’ agendas for the 2020 presidential race.

Bipartisan Bill Would Nationally Raising the Smoking Age to 21

The problem has been mounting over the past few years, and now the youth smoking epidemic (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/congress-tackles-youth-smoking-pelosi-drug-pricing-bidens-cancer-commitment) is coming to a head. Smoking cessation advocates like the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids—of which ONS is an active member (https://www.ons.org/make-a-difference/advocacy-policy/coalitions)—have been calling for bolder steps from the government to staunch the rising rates of youth smokers. After Senators Mitch McConnel (R-KY) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Tobacco-Free Youth Act (S.1541), which raises the legal tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 nationally (https://www.kaine.senate.gov/press-releases/video-kaine-mcconnell-unveil-bipartisan-bill-to-raise-minimum-age-to-purchase-tobacco-to-21), the movement garnered clear bipartisan support.

Even inside-the-beltway news outlets like the Washington Post have increased their attention (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/congress-should-raise-the-smoking-age--and-then-enforce-it/2019/07/01/a27337fc-99db-11e9-916d-9c61607d8190_story.html) on the movement. As focus in Washington continues to coalesce around the smoking epidemic, it’s up to lawmakers to make good on their word and follow through with their commitments. Learn more about the youth smoking epidemic and earn free CNE on the Oncology Nursing Podcast (https://www.ons.org/podcasts/episode-55-youth-vaping-epidemic).

U.S. Advisory Panel Refrains From Broadly Recommending HPV Vaccine

Sweeping support for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine continues throughout the healthcare community and among past and current presidential administrations (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/presidents-cancer-panel-calls-for-renewed-commitment-to-vaccinate-for-hpv). Study findings have shown that the HPV vaccine is effective in reducing the rates of cancer (https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine/six-reasons.html) and vaccination rates are growing throughout the United States.

However, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—an expert group providing guidance of U.S. vaccination policy—announced it would not broadly recommend the vaccine (https://www.statnews.com/2019/06/26/u-s-advisory-panel-stops-short-of-broad-recommendations-for-two-common-vaccines/), rather leaving the decision to patients and their providers. The announcement was more of a setback for the pharmaceutical industry than for advocates. HPV awareness, of which ONS has been a leading voice (https://www.ons.org/acq-search?search=hpv), has seen a rise thanks to public health campaigns and the continued education of healthcare providers. Cancer prevention is just one of the many important issues nurses address with their patients and their communities (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/cancer-prevention-oncology-nurses-save-lives-by-raising-awareness).

Copyright © 2019 by the Oncology Nursing Society. User has permission to print one copy for personal or unit-based educational use. Contact pubpermissions@ons.org for quantity reprints.