Dems Take House; GOP Expands Senate; Science in Midterms
After an arduous campaign season, the midterm election results are mostly as anticipated. The Democrats gained seats in the House of Representatives, giving the party the majority in the lower chamber starting in January 2019. The Dems say their focus for the next congressional session will focus on health policy and high drug prices. Although the jury is still out over what the midterm elections meant, most experts agree that health care was the driving political issue for voters, regardless of party.
Dems on Health Care; Obamacare Enrollment; Pricey Precision Medicine
To Rally Voters, Democrats Focus on Health Care as Their Closing Argument
Although many states are already collecting early votes, Tuesday, November 6, 2018, will tell the full tale of the midterm elections. Many Democrats are emphasizing their focus on health care in the final days and hours before the election. By most measurable public opinion poll, health care remains the most important domestic issue for voters.
Drug Pricing in Ads; Cancer Fertility Preservation; American Healthcare Panic
Addressing the high cost of prescription medications has been an ongoing focus for the Trump administration. Its latest move, requiring drug companies to list their product’s market price on consumer ads, is an added level of transparency that didn’t exist before. Whether the decree will have an impact remains to be seen, but it may add some trust to the process.
Obamacare Premiums Stabilize; Senate Opioid Package; Medicare for All Questions
Millions of Americans depend on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace for their health insurance. In the past, costs have been unstable, seeing insurance premiums rise and competition flee. However, new reports estimate that Americans who receive health coverage from ACA will only see moderate increases to their premiums for 2019. During earlier repeal and replace efforts of Obamacare—otherwise known as ACA—the healthcare marketplace was volatile for consumers. Some insurers pulled out of the marketplace, leaving those that remained able to sharply increase premiums.
GOP Pre-Existing Conditions Bill; Biden in Pittsburgh; McCain’s Healthcare Legacy
As the Affordable Care Act is challenged in court, 12 Republican Senators signed a letter insisting that pre-existing conditions be covered in any new healthcare laws moving forward. Despite initial praise for the GOP, many patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, have voiced concerns about the efforts being far too little and far too late. On September 4, 2018, more than 25 patient advocacy groups came together and released a statement condemning a recent Republican bill stating it didn’t provide enough protections for pre-existing conditions, compared to what’s currently covered under the ACA. The advocacy groups noted the bill's outlying weaknesses and pushed for stronger reassurances.
Trump Administration Forced to Help to ACA; As Dems Campaign on Pre-Existing Conditions, Republicans Move In; Incidence of Pre-Existing Conditions Varies Across the United States
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), each state has the right to create its own basic healthcare system within its own jurisdictions. Currently, only New York and Minnesota have made such systems available to residents who are just over the limit to qualify for Medicaid. Those individuals receive their health care from the state—until the Trump administration eliminated certain aspects of ACA that provided federal funding for these programs. After suing to overturn the administration’s ruling, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a settlement that would pay close to half a billion dollars to New York and Minnesota to support the affected plans.
If You Are Young and Have Cancer, Help Can Be Hard to Find; Health Secretary Says Agency Has Power to Eliminate Drug Rebates; Trump Administration Needs to Step Up on Obamacare
A cancer diagnosis at a young age can lead to serious hardship after completing treatments and moving into survivorship. Such was the case for Matthew Zachary after his cancer diagnosis at age 21. An interesting component to Zachary’s story—and that of many others like him—is that despite the higher number of insured Americans after the Affordable Care Act, costs and complications still plague patients. Access to health care can be a double-edge sword. It means more people are seeing providers, but it doesn't mean that people can afford those treatments.
At Stake in the 2018 Midterms: Medicaid Expansion; Health Groups Call on FDA to Speed Up Regulation of E-Cigarettes, Cigars; New Study Ignites Debate Over Cost of Medicare for All
Healthcare reform has been a hot political topic since before the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. Potential changes in the American healthcare system will be at the hands of which party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate. The upcoming midterm elections in November 2018 could determine a shift in power and potentially add further Medicaid expansion to the list of incoming health care changes.
Candidates’ Position Will Matter to Voters, Especially Health Care; Senate Confirms Robert Wilkie as Veterans Affairs Secretary; Trump Battle Over Drug Prices Heats Up
The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report stating that coverage for pre-existing conditions ranks highest among healthcare campaign issues for American voters. According to the report, the issue cuts across all parties, including Democrats, Republicans, and voters living in battleground states. Since attempting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, 58% of those polled say that President Trump’s administration and the Republicans in Congress are responsible for problems with the healthcare law moving forward.
GOP Chairman in Talks With Trump Officials on Restarting Key Obamacare Payments; Oklahoma Medicaid Approved for Drug Pricing Experiment; House Panel Advances Bill That Would Temporarily Halt Obamacare’s Employer Mandate
On July 16, 2018, Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Ways and Means Committee chair, announced that he’s working with the Trump administration to restore funding to key Affordable Care Act (ACA) payments. Previously, the White House suspended more than $10.4 billion in payments to insurers, which brought criticism from Democrats and stern warnings of rising healthcare premiums.
Trump Officials Again Slash Funding for Obamacare Outreach Groups; Pfizer Postpones Price Hikes After Trump Criticism; Medicare for All Is New Democratic Mantra in Congressional Races
Previously, reports had emerged that the Trump administration was considering cuts to funding for Affordable Care Act (ACA) outreach groups whose aim has been to educate and assist Americans interested in enrolling in the healthcare program. On July 10, 2018, the administration officially announced funding cuts to the outreach programs, reducing their funding from $36 million to $10 million for 2019.
Trump Officials Considering Cuts to Obamacare Outreach Groups; Those Who Don't Qualify for Government Aid Aren't Buying Obamacare Plans; Judge Blocks Kentucky Medicaid Work Requirement Hours Before Implementation
An initial proposal from the Trump administration might cut funds for outreach related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As of yet no decisions are finalized and funding may still remain consistent, but limiting funding for outreach of the ACA, known to most as Obamacare, isn't a new move for the current administration. In 2017, it cut funding for navigators who educated and enrolled Americans in the ACA marketplace, leading to confusion among potential applicants and lower enrollment numbers. If funding is cut again this year, new or returning enrollees are unlikely to find success when looking for coverage.
House Overwhelmingly Passes Final Opioid Package; Texas v. the United States Could Impact Patients With Preexisting Conditions; Lawmakers Who Forged ACA Look Back
Through tremendous bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed comprehensive opioid legislation to address the national abuse epidemic in the United States on June 22, 2018. For many healthcare advocates, an opioid legislation package has been a long time coming. The opioid crisis has been in the news since before the 2016 presidential election but was brought to the forefront during that campaign.
NIH Wants 1 Million Americans to Contribute to New Pool of Gene Data; FDA Takes Action Against Misleading Companies Marketing to Kids; Conservative Groups Hope to Release New Obamacare Replacement This Month
With hopes for more than 1 million participants, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched the All of Us initiative, a radical precision medicine campaign to amass a collective gene pool data repository. The NIH is aiming to shrink our differences and expand on the similarities found in our genetic data. For some, compiling genetic data of an entire country’s citizens may sound very reminiscent of Big Brother from the book 1984. But the amount of information that could be shared and learned from such a massive health database is remarkable.
Insurer Group Warns Against Short-Term Health Plan Proposal; Medicaid Won’t Look the Same in 2019; Rapid Autopsy Programs Seek Clues to Cancer Within Hours of Death
Earlier in 2018, the Trump administration proposed a new rule that would permit Americans to buy short-term health insurance for up to 12 months, breaking from an Obama-era regulation that limited short-term health plans to a maximum of three months. To some, the proposed extension would potentially extend coverage to Americans interested in insuring themselves and their families. However, the America’s Health Insurance Plans group is on the other side of the argument, insisting that temporary plans—for any length of time—are no substitute to real coverage. Short-term plans are not covered by Affordable Care Act regulations, and it could lead to patients with pre-existing conditions being charged more for temporary insurance.
GOP Steers Away From Obamacare Repeal, Replace; Is Cigarette Prohibition on the Horizon?; Barbara Bush’s End-of-Life Decision Makes Waves
After a flurry of proposed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare—the unofficial name for the Affordable Care Act (ACA)— the GOP has shifted its focus to other policy issues. In fact, many Republican senators and congressional representatives have removed any mention of the healthcare law from their websites. With the 2018 midterm elections approaching, GOP lawmakers are seemingly breaking with the Trump administration’s stance on the healthcare law, recognizing that their constituents may be in favor of the ACA’s many protections.
Medicare Cracks Down on Opioid Prescriptions, Abuse; Health Care Tops Poll of American Worries; Leading Chemotherapy Researcher, Physician Dies at 92
An estimated 14.4 million Medicare recipients were prescribed some form of opioid treatment in 2016, paid for by their Medicare benefits. In an attempt to help curb the national opioid epidemic, officials from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare would no longer pay for long-term, high-dose prescription pain medication. Unsurprisingly, the plan received flak from patient and provider advocacy groups alike. Opponents to the CMS announcement decried the efforts, citing barriers to crucial medications needed for patients in chronic or severe pain—including those with cancer.
Bipartisan Bill Unveiled to Fight Opioid Epidemic; FDA Renews Commitment to Curb Tobacco Use; Walker Embraces Obamacare for Wisconsin Residents
In 2016, former President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recover Act (CARA) into law. Since then, some aspects of drug addiction have been decriminalized and refocused as medical issues, helping to remove some of the stigma associated with addiction. Although CARA is a start when tackling addiction issues, several senators—both Republican and Democrat—want to take it a step farther in the national fight against opioid abuse.
Trump Cuts Obamacare Subsidies; Trump Announces Hargan as New Acting HHS Secretary; Norman Sharpless Sworn in as NCI Director
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.
Sanders Gains Support for Single-Payer Health Care Push; GOP Senators Put Forth Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill; New Toolkit Helps Nurses Integrate Genomics in Cancer Care
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently gave an interview for The Nation to discuss his announcement and subsequent push for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States. During his 2016 presidential bid, Sanders campaigned for universal health care and gained significant support from the public. However, many on Capitol Hill were still unsure of a “Medicare-for-all” plan. Despite the initially tepid response, Sanders recently outlined a new single-payer healthcare bill he plans to introduce, and he’s gaining surprising support from several senators in Washington, DC.
All Politics, Even Health Policy, Is Local
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill was fond of saying, “All politics is local.” What he meant was, if an elected official took care of the constituents back home, then whatever happened in Washington, DC, wouldn’t matter as much. Whatever issues most affected voters in the legislative district, then that is where members of Congress should spend their time.
Nursing Is One of America’s Most Dangerous Professions; Uninsured Rates Fall to 8.8%; Senate Authorizes Five-Year CHIP Deal
Nursing isn’t always just about treating illness. At times, patients are unruly, combative, and even downright dangerous to staff. Nurses are the ones standing front and center when an upset patient erupts, and it happens more often than the uninitiated public may think. A recent article in the Washington Post, catalogs some of the harrowing violence nurses have seen in the line of duty, dubbing it one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. Patients aren’t always the sole source of danger either—as illustrated by the recent assault of a Utah nurse, Alex Wubbels, by a Salt Lake City police detective.
Governors Push Senators for 2018 ACA Funding; NCI Requests Input on Bioethics in Cancer Research; Congress Braces for Full September Agenda
Summer 2017 saw several attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), none of which were successful. Now that the dust has started to settle—and Congress is slowly moving on to other issues—many are still dealing with the uncertainty left in the wake of the nation’s healthcare debate. This includes many concerned governors who are lobbying for funds to address their states’ current needs.
Former HHS Secretaries Urge Trump to Support ACA; Every U.S. County Will Have ACA Marketplace Option; Government May Look to Continuing Resolution to Prevent Shutdown
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is likely here to stay. After previous attempts to repeal and replace the nation’s healthcare legislation, the Senate has finally moved on to other issues. However, this hasn’t stopped President Trump from attempting to undercut some of the financial components of the ACA. Recently, former Health and Human Services (HHS) secretaries from both the Democrats and Republicans urged Trump to support ACA subsidies that could affect the cost of more than 10 million American’s healthcare plans.
Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a National Emergency; Recent Poll Shows Health Care, Government Most Important to Americans; FDA Launches Campaign to Fight Youth E-Cigarette Use
Experts currently estimate that opioid addiction kills nearly 100 Americans every day, and the scale of the problem is continuing to grow. In response, President Trump to unofficially declared the opioid crisis a national emergency during a public statement from his golf resort in Bedminster, NJ, on August 10, 2017.
Republicans May Aim to Repeal ACA Without a Replacement Plan; Majority of Americans Support Government Health Care; Q&A With New Jersey State Nurses Association CEO
After failing to garner support for the GOP’s healthcare bill in the Senate—known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noted that the next strategy for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be to repeal the legislation without any concrete healthcare bill to replace it. In 2015, the Senate already successful voted to repeal the ACA, but it was vetoed by former President Obama. According to McConnell, the 2017 repeal effort would provide a two-year window to ensure a stable transition.
Senate Republicans Unveil Replacement Healthcare Bill; Single-Payer Healthcare System Would Have High Price Tag; FDA Commissioner Comments on 2016 Youth Tobacco Survey Results
On June 22, 2017, Republican senators unveiled their version of the bill repeal and replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, known to most as Obamacare. The Senate bill looks similar to the House-backed healthcare bill passed in May 2017. Central to the Senate’s bill are proposed cuts to Medicaid expansion, along with eliminating a net investment income tax that impacts higher earners. The proposed bill provides more tax subsidies for lower-income individuals than its sister bill from the House of Representatives, but it’s still expected to raise costs for poorer Americans.
ACA Could Potentially Become Expanded Medicaid; Smoking More Prevalent in Low Socioeconomic Individuals; Provider, Patient Communication Still Needs Improvement
In Washington, DC, the healthcare debate rages on. Currently, Republican senators are working behind closed doors to modify and change the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA). As it stands, the AHCA is the replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known to most Americans as Obamacare. While legislators continue to debate in Washington, the insurance marketplace carries on. United Healthcare recently announced its departure from the ACA’s marketplace exchange, another in list of insurance companies that have chosen to leave.
Nursing Workforce Faces Looming Shortage; Budget Proposal Cuts $636 Billion From HHS Agencies; CBO Issues Evaluation on AHCA
With an increasing number of baby boomers—both leaving the nursing profession and finding themselves in need of care—a workforce shortage is continuing to challenge the nursing industry. Recent reports have also indicated that educators in nursing programs have dropped off, leading to fewer nursing graduates. Some educational institutions are seeking accelerated programs to meet the demands of the growing healthcare market.
Senate Obamacare Working Group Expands; Gottlieb, MD, Named FDA Commissioner; Bipartisan Commitment to Healthcare Delivery System Reform
As legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act works its way into the Senate, a new working group is attempting tackle the issue through tax breaks that would potentially ease healthcare costs. However, when the working group was formed, some Republican Senators were left out of the discussion—namely women senators in the GOP. After receiving flack for the decision, the working group officially opened its doors to anyone in the Republican convention.
NIH Gets $2 Billion in Additional Funding; Senators Await CBO Score on AHCA; AHRQ Director Touts Importance of Nursing
In March 2017, President Trump issued what was called his “skinny budget.” The name refers to the short length of his proposed budget document, as well as the draconian cuts it brought to almost every federal agency.
Federal Healthcare Legislation in a Divided America
“Obamacare is the law of the land.” And thus ended the debate over repeal and replace of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), as Paul Ryan (R-WI), the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives left the podium Friday afternoon on March 24.
GOP to Potentially Revisit Healthcare Legislation; New State Funding Will Combat Opioid Epidemic; FDA Reaches Reauthorization Fee Deal for New Drugs, Devices
As the first 100 days of the Trump administration ends, the White House is still pressing Congress to revisit healthcare legislation—one of Trump’s main campaign promises.
PA Legislation Aims to Expand Role of Nurse Practitioners; Bipartisan Support Needed to Tackle the Nation’s Opioid Epidemic; New Poll Reveals Bipartisan Interest in Single-Payer Health Care
New legislation proposing to allow nurse practitioners the ability to practice to the full extent of their licensure is making its way through the Pennsylvania House and Senate. The bill was introduced to help ease the burden on healthcare professionals by loosening restrictions on the supervision over nurse practitioners.
GOP Unable to Secure Support for AHCA; Senators Introduce Women’s Health Bill; Americans Worried About Insurance Access, Coverage
After the GOP spent weeks lobbying for support, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) informed President Trump on March 24 that the replacement healthcare proposal, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), did not have enough support in the House of Representatives. The bill was pulled from voting, which ensured that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be in place for the foreseeable future. The Republican party failed to garner enough support for the bill, with some moderates fearing it would strand many without access to health care, whereas more conservative factions believed the AHCA didn’t dismantle enough portions of the ACA.
GOP Announces Healthcare Replacement Plan; CMS Nominee Confirmed; Secretary Price Discusses Repeal, Replace
On March 8, 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The AHCA is becoming known to many on Capitol Hill as Trumpcare, and it’s already facing stiff opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike. Many conservative Republicans are calling it Obamacare 2.0 and expected a full repeal of the ACA. Moderate Republicans are unlikely to support the bill, because it could potentially strand millions without insurance coverage provided by the ACA.
Concern Over ACA Repeal, Bipartisan Support Against Opioid Epidemic, ACA Replacement May Mean Unwanted Limitations
In a series of articles published by the Washington Post, patients living with cancer are speaking out against the potential harm that could impact cancer care with repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Told through each patient’s own experience with the ACA, the stories paint a vivid picture for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. By putting a face to those affected by repealing the ACA, this series may give representatives pause before they consider getting rid of the healthcare bill.
Opportunities Exist for Health Policy Compromise in 2017
The 115th U.S. Congress was sworn into office on January 3, 2017. Capitol Hill was abuzz with congratulatory smiles, wide-eyed optimism, and not a small amount of relief for those who survived last November’s election.