Bill to Lower Drug Costs; Surprise Medical Billing; The Fight Against Vaping
Progressive Bill Aims to Lower Prescription Drug Spending
The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3), otherwise known as H.R. 3, is a top priority for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). But she’s facing challenges from progressive Democrats on her left more so than the conservative Senate on her right. Watering down provisions in H.R. 3 too much will lose her the votes she needs to pass the bill in the House (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/news/2019/12/09/478380/house-bill-lower-patients-prescription-drug-spending-thousands-dollars/), but passing a bill that’s too overarching or progressive will allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to refuse to take up the legislation at all.
The House wants to pass meaningful legislation to hang its hat on, but bipartisan efforts are few and far between. Drug pricing remains a hot topic (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/the-battle-against-drug-pricing-wages-on), and oncology nurses must educate elected officials (https://voice.ons.org/stories/health-policy-begins-with-you-educate-your-representatives-in-cancer-care) on the financial burdens for patients. Join your voice to ONS’s advocacy efforts and make a difference today (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/get-involved).
Surprise Medical Bill Policy Would Increase Tobacco Purchase Age to 21
The cost of medical care has been a primary policy target for years (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/candidates-position-will-matter-to-voters-especially-health-care), and surprise billing for patients (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/congress-tackles-surprise-billing-for-patient-access-to-affordable-care) is just one aspect of a larger conversation. New legislation aimed at tackling unexpected medical bills for patients (https://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/chairmen-announce-tentative-deal-ban-surprise-medical-bills) has been coupled with an effort to raise the tobacco purchase minimum age, but it has many other moving pieces.
The Democratic majority in the House is seeking to pass it, as is the Republican majority in the Senate. However, each minority party in their respective chambers is wary of working together to pass the bill. The lack of cooperation, along with the bill’s provision to raise the legal age of purchase for tobacco, further complicates the process. Patient advocacy groups and ONS (https://www.ons.org/make-a-difference/advocacy-policy/coalitions) have high hopes that Congress will tackle these important issues before the end of the 2019, but it’s hard to expect bipartisan work in contentious times.
Representative Krishnamoorthi’s Fight Against Vaping Is Personal
Sometimes politics is both local and personal. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) made the health and safety of his children the driving reason for why he’s advocating for stronger restrictions on products like e-cigarettes, flavored products, and vaping devices (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/bold-drug-pricing-plan-limiting-nicotine-levels-representative-lowey-retires). In August 2019, he started the bipartisan vaping caucus and introduced legislation to restrict the marketing and distribution of these products (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/house-committee-examines-juuls-role-in-the-youth-smoking-epidemic). But Krishnamoorthi (https://time.com/5731818/raja-krishnamoorthi-juul/) says he never planned to be a part of the fight against Big Tobacco.
Nonetheless, ONS and dozens of other health advocacy organizations (https://www.ons.org/make-a-difference/advocacy-policy/coalitions) have joined Representative Krishnamoorthi in his fight (https://www.ons.org/make-difference/ons-center-advocacy-and-health-policy/position-statements/e-cigarettes-and-vaping). Expect larger pieces of legislation in 2020 that aim to combat the surge in underage vaping use seen in 2019. The fight against the youth vaping epidemic (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/surgeon-general-declares-youth-vaping-an-epidemic) is far from over, and oncology nurses are a key piece to the conversation. Educating lawmakers and highlighting the patient experience are crucial to advocating for change at all levels of government. Join the ONS advocacy effort today (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/get-involved).