Inflation Reduction Act Lowers Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Premiums in 2023
Under the Inflation Reduction Act, patients will pay lower premiums for the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans during the 2023 coverage year, the Biden-Harris administration announced in September 2022. People with Medicare prescription drug coverage will also receive better and more affordable benefits, including a $35 cost-sharing limit on covered insulin product and coverage for adult vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Policy Investments in Biomarkers Are Changing Cancer Outcomes
Since the late 1990s, U.S. Congress has made a concerted effort to increase federal funding for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) biomedical research and clinical trials. Through rare but always bipartisan largess, legislative appropriators have seen the benefits of investing in the science for precision medicine; supporting genetic-grounded, patient-centered care; and changing the quality and longevity of life for millions of people, including those with cancer diagnoses.
Anthony Fauci, MD, Talks About His Legacy as He Steps Down as NIAID Director
Anthony Fauci, MD, reflected on his career in government and gave insight into what he’s doing next in a statement released in August 2022 addressing his departure from his positions as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden. Fauci served as NIAID director for 38 years and held a career spanning more than 50 years in government service.
Congressional Caucus Urges Biden-Harris Administration to Request Monkeypox Funding
As monkeypox continues to spread, the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus urged the Biden-Harris Administration in August 2022 to request funding from U.S. Congress to combat the virus.
Communication Models Help Nurses Confidently Address Sexual Concerns in Patients With Cancer
Sexual dysfunction is one of the most common side effects of cancer treatment, yet oncology professionals often under address patients’ sexuality and sexual dysfunction concerns. Providers cite lack of time, training, and resources as barriers to initiating important discussions about sexual side effects, and studies show that patients’ age and prognosis are additional hindering factors.
Put Underserved Populations at the Forefront of the Sexual Health Conversation
Cancer and its treatments can affect a patient’s body in many ways, including sexual function. However, the historical evidence base is focused on cisgender men and their sexual health post-cancer treatment, with sexual health of women and LGBTQIA+ patients largely ignored. I, and many others, are working to change these disparities in research and practice.
The PACT Act Improves Veterans’ Access to Cancer Care and Other Health Support
Veterans exposed to toxic substances in service will have more access to cancer care and other medical assistance thanks to the recently signed Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act. The PACT Act passed with bipartisan effort by Congress in August 2022 and later signed into law.
CMS Guides U.S. States on New Benefit to Improve Access to Care for Children With Complex Medical Conditions
A new Medicaid health home benefit could improve access to person-centered care management, care coordination, and support resources for children with complex medical conditions and their families—but only if states understand how to opt into offering it. In August 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, released guidelines for states to better understand the benefit and its requirements.
HHS Issues Proposed Rule to Fight Discrimination in Health Care
By prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ July 2022 proposed rule strengthens Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, improving civil rights protections for patients in certain federally funded health programs.
Balance Hope and Quality of Life for Phase I Clinical Trials
Leita, a 42-year-old patient with locally advanced pancreatic cancer, was treated with 5-fluorouracil, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin followed by capecitabine and radiation therapy. After she completed initial treatment, a computed tomography scan conducted in preparation for a possible surgical resection revealed metastatic liver lesions. Leita’s surgery was cancelled, and she began second-line therapy with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel.
House Committee Passes Lymphedema Treatment Act
In a key step that would expand Medicare coverage for necessary lymphedema compression treatment items, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Lymphedema Treatment Act in July 2022, advancing the bill’s journey to becoming law.
APRNs Collaborate With PCPs on Shared Survivorship Care Models
Although they’ve conquered cancer, survivors may develop late or long-term physical, psychosocial, practical, or spiritual effects from the disease or its treatment. For example, patients with breast cancer who have completed surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy should be monitored for recurrence, lymphedema, osteoporosis, and cardiac, hormone-related, and sexual issues.
U.S. Senator Speaks About Prescription Medication Prices, Joined by ONS Chapter President
Pending legislation would help residents save on prescription drug costs by empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, capping out-of-pocket costs, and limiting pharmaceutical price increases to the rate of inflation, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) said during a discussion with a plethora of healthcare professionals, including ONS member Heather Murphy, MSN, FNP, OCN®, president of the ONS Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter, about rising prescription drug prices at a Rhode Island conference in July 2022.
Social and Community Context Matter in Cancer Care
A person’s zip code often matters more than their genetic code when it comes to their health. Where we live and work, how connected we are in our community, and how much support we have are core social determinants of health that also significantly affect cancer health outcomes.
The Role of Blind Justice in U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Health Care
For the past 244 years, the world has envied the Great American Experience. Civics 101 class equipped us with the U.S. checks and balances system’s elementary pillars:
- Government has three equal branches: executive (the president), legislative (the congress), and judiciary (the courts).
- When legislative laws are disputed, the judicial system interprets a law’s constitutionality.
Promote Patient Self-Advocacy Across the Cancer Spectrum
Healthcare professionals are called to provide patient-centered care in an environment where they listen to patients’ goals and desires and support patient autonomy. However, heeding that call requires patients’ participation to voice their needs and concerns, and some patients may be reluctant to speak up for themselves.
When Healthcare Professionals Join Organizations to Advocate, Patients’ Voices Are Heard
We’ve made incredible progress against tobacco’s reign over youth, but the battle is far from over. Tobacco use is responsible for the death of nearly half a million Americans and more than 8 million people worldwide each year.
Sexual Minority Populations Are Less Likely to Obtain Cervical Cancer Screenings
Propensity to adhere to cervical cancer screening recommendations varies widely by sexual orientation, researchers reported in study findings published in Cancer. They found that those in sexual minority groups are nearly 50% less likely to have ever undergone a Pap test.
Legislation Funds FDA Programs to Support Safety, Lower Costs, and Spur Innovation
To improve safety and regulation for drugs and devices, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act in May 2022. The act reauthorizes and builds on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) prescription drug, generic drug, biosimilar, and medical device user fee agreements.
Symptom assessment gives oncology nurses a consistent matrix to directly evaluate the significance that symptoms have on patients’ distress, quality of life, and survival. Both symptoms and their impact can evolve throughout a patient’s cancer course, making high-quality and detail-oriented assessments an essential tool for successful treatment and management.
Community Health Centers Get Funding to Advance Equity in Cancer Screening and Follow-Up Care
With the relaunch of the Biden-Harris administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, the fight against cancer is back in the government spotlight. To support the Moonshot’s goals, in May 2022 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocated $5 million to the Health Resources and Services Administration-funded community health centers.
Senators Cantwell, Grassley Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Battle Unfair Drug Pricing
Patients with cancer and other healthcare consumers would receive reinforcements in the fight against financial toxicity with new legislation that would “empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to increase drug pricing transparency and hold pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) accountable for unfair and deceptive practices that drive up the costs of prescription drugs.” U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the proposed bill in May.
The Case of the Late Head and Neck Lymphedema
Samuel, a 55-year-old patient with a history of T3N1M0 oropharyngeal HPV+ cancer on the base of his tongue, underwent surgery followed by 70 Gy of intensity-modulated radiation over seven weeks with concurrent weekly cisplatin. He responded well and had a positron emission tomography (PET) scan three months post-treatment that showed no cancer. Two months later, Samuel calls the triage line to report swelling on the left side of his neck, the same area where he first noticed a lymph node that led to his initial diagnosis.
NCI Hosts Virtual Roundtable Discussion on Expanding Clinical Trial Accrual
Driven by the reignited Cancer Moonshot, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) hosted a virtual roundtable discussion on the possibilities and challenges of increasing clinical trial accrual in May 2022.
CMS’s Chronic Pain Experience Journey Map Will Help Patients and Providers
Highlighting the most prominent barriers that people accessing care face and the influencers acting on providers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) unveiled in May Chronic Pain Experience Journey Map. The map came out of the work done under the 2019 Chronic Pain Stakeholder Engagement initiative to explore the serious role chronic pain has in patients’ lives.
Senators Baldwin, Capito Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Palliative and Hospice Care
The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), an ONS health policy priority that supports both patients and the profession, returned to the U.S. Senate floor in May 2022. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) reintroduced the bill to improve and sustain the workforce and the well-being of patients and their families with life-threatening illnesses.
U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Cases on Medicaid Requirement to Work
A pandemic is not the time to experiment with Medicaid work requirements, the Biden-Harris administration maintained in April 2022 when it urged officials in Arkansas and New Hampshire to cancel their U.S. Supreme Court hearing appeals regarding the Trump administration orders and send the matter back to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for further action.
Health and Equity Matter for Black Mothers, HHS Says
Amid its celebration of Black Maternal Health Week in April 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) raised awareness of a sobering fact: Black maternal mortality and morbidity are a healthcare crisis throughout the United States.
Americans Have Stronger Access to Affordable Health Coverage Through New Biden Executive Order
An April 2022 Biden-Harris administration executive order on Continuing to Strengthen Americans’ Access to Affordable, Quality Health Coverage will protect and strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. The order directed federal agencies and departments to review existing language and correct regulatory wording that might be inconsistent with the goals of offering more affordable access to health care.
Minority Populations Represent Nearly Half of 100,000 Whole Genome Sequences for Researchers Through All of Us
Among the first set of nearly 100,000 whole genome sequences from participant partners in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program, “about half come from people who self-identify with a racial or ethnic minority group,” Joshua Denny, MD, MS, All of Us chief executive officer, and Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD, NIH acting director, said. “That’s extremely important because, until now, over 90% of participants in large genomic studies were of European descent. This lack of diversity has had huge impacts—deepening health disparities and hindering scientific discovery from fully benefiting everyone.”
Teleoncology Addresses Health Disparities With High Satisfaction for Patients and Providers, NCI Shares
Virtual appointments and other telehealth care allow patients and families to have ready access to cancer care from the comfort of their own home, Kevin M. Curtis, MD, medical director of the Center for Telehealth at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, said in a March 2022 National Cancer Institute (NCI) blog post praising the service. Curtis also highlighted telehealth’s role in addressing health disparities, its high satisfaction rate with both patients and clinicians, and the service’s future in cancer care research.
Racial and Ethnic Groups Report COVID-19–Related Discrimination, NIH Says
People from all major racial and ethnic minority population groups in the United States report experiencing more COVID-19–related discrimination than White adults, including being threatened or harassed based on a perception of having COVID-19, according to results from a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Creates Path Out of Pandemic
President Joe Biden released the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in March 2022, enabling the United States to move forward with goals to protect against and treat COVID-19, prepare for new variants, prevent economic and educational shutdowns, and expand vaccinations.
Diverse Healthcare Equity Requires Providers and Policymakers to Unite for Change
Systemic racism persists throughout today’s society, presenting barriers to basic human rights and services, including quality health care for millions of people. Overcoming those disparities and achieving social justice require advocacy from all—but especially nurses.
Carole Johnson Returns to HHS as HRSA Administrator
Carole Johnson returned to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the new administrator of the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) in December 2021. Johnson, who previously served as testing coordinator for the White House COVID-19 response team before being replaced by HHS’s Tom Inglesby, expanded access to health services in New Jersey as the state’s human services commissioner.
Specialized Risk Calculator May Reduce Disparities for Black Patients With Breast Cancer
A new risk model tailored for Black patients predicts their risk of developing breast cancer as accurately as current models for White patients, researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Because Black patients are more likely to be younger at diagnosis, present with aggressive or advanced cancer, and die from the disease than other racial and ethnic groups, using the new model to personalize prevention and screening recommendations may reduce those disparities.
White House Initiative Addresses Disparities for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders
Advancing equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities in the United States requires an ambitious, whole-of-government agenda, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in December 2021. To drive that agenda, the agency launched the Biden-Harris administration’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI).
No Surprises Act Protects Patients From Unexpected Medical Bills
Patients now have protection against unexpected—and often extraordinarily high—medical bills. On January 1, 2022, the Biden-Harris administration’s bipartisan No Surprises Act went into effect to ban surprise billing in private insurance for most emergency care and many instances of nonemergency care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
President Biden Reignites Cancer Moonshot Initiative
The explosion of immunotherapy in your practice? You can thank the Cancer Moonshot. New discoveries in oncodrivers for childhood cancers? Thank the Moonshot again. You can also thank it for better cancer prevention and screening strategies, attention to patient-centered care, and interprofessional collaboration among oncology scientists and clinicians.
U.S. Invests in Historic Funding to Drive Equity in Health Care
Unprecedented new funding will expand and diversify the country’s healthcare workforce, address workforce shortages, and support more than 22,700 healthcare providers committed to working in underserved communities, according to a statement from the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris announced the $1.5 billion investment into the National Health Service Corps, Nurse Corps, and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery programs in November 2021.
Biden-Harris Administration Provides Nearly $1 Billion to Modernize Health Centers, Support Underserved Communities
An investment of nearly $1 billion will help modernize 1,292 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) health center program-funded health centers across the United States, according to an October 2021 announcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funding will be used to support major healthcare construction and renovation projects and strengthen the country’s healthcare infrastructure.
Racism, Health Inequities, and Unequal Access to Care Are Oncology Nursing Research Priorities
Racial inequality persists across the entire healthcare spectrum—from patient disparities to the healthcare workforce’s current makeup and even to the education of the next generation of practitioners. But nurse scientists conducting clinical trials have the opportunity to change that.
Legislators Want Medicare to Negotiate Drug Prices to Improve Access and Affordability
Few political and policy issues resonate with all Americans as much as the costs of prescription medications, particularly those for acute and chronic diseases that affect the body and spirit, like cancer. Seizing the opportunity for real change, in August 2021 President Joe Biden made a major announcement about his administration’s intent to change the dynamic on the financial impact of drugs and government oversight.
HHS Secretary Releases Proposal to Lower Prescription Drug Costs
On September 9, 2021, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra released the Drug Pricing Plan to combat excessive pricing or prescription drugs and reduce the prices paid by the federal government for such drugs, and to address price gouging in the industry. The plan is a part of an initiative from President Biden’s executive order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy to advance the federal government’s ability to address overconcentration, monopolization, and unfair competition in the economy.
Legislators Call for Improvement in Palliative Care and Hospice Workforce
Legislators across the United States are recognizing what ONS has advocated for more than a decade: the need for improved access to and better understanding of palliative and hospice care. In September 2021, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) voiced their support for palliative care through a letter to the U.S. Congress.
Biden-Harris Administration Invests in Health Care for Rural Communities, Provides $19 Million for Telehealth Opportunities
Despite its now-widespread use, telehealth still poses barriers for many patients, such as limited access in rural areas and privacy concerns. In August 2021, the Biden-Harris administration announced the investment of billions of dollars to meet immediate COVID-19 needs and help improve hospital care to rural communities. The funding includes more than $19 million in telehealth to improve the initiative in rural and underserved communities.
Program Helps Communities to Bridge the Digital Divide in Clinical Care
Nurses and other members of the healthcare community have both the power and responsibility to reduce disparities in access to telehealth services, Mark Rastetter, MD, Cynthia J. Sieck, PhD, MPH, and Rose Grady, FNP, said during a session held at the ONS BridgeTM virtual conference on September 14, 2021. They shared their experience creating digital equity among patients using telehealth at Ohio State University’s (OSU’s) Wexner Medical Center.
American Rescue Plan Lowers Costs for More Than 1.5 Million Americans During Special Enrollment Period
When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law in March 2021, the administration began working to make improvements in areas such as access and affordability by increasing eligibility for financial assistance. The new law lowered premiums for most people who currently had a Marketplace health plan and expanded access to financial assistance for more consumers, and data published in July 2021 showed that from February 15–June 30, 2021, more than 1.5 million Americans signed up for new health insurance coverage using the 2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period (SEP).