On October 13, 2022, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar extended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration, on the day it was set to expire, for an additional 90 days. The PHE is now set to expire January 13, 2023.
ASCO in Action provides the latest news and analysis related to critical policy issues affecting the cancer community, updates on the Association for Clinical Oncology’s ongoing advocacy efforts, and opportunities for members and others in the cancer care community to take action.
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Congress is considering several cancer policy priorities this week, including the PREVENT Pandemics Act, Cures 2.0, and legislation to authorize ARPA-H.
The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate endorsing the Provider Relief Fund Improvement Act (H.R. 5963/S. 3611).
The Association for Clinical Oncology sent comments to leadership of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) regarding the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act), which aims improve the nation’s public health and medical preparedness systems, in addition to improving the U.S. healthcare system more broadly.
On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to enforce its vaccine mandate nationwide (with the exception of Texas). At the same time, the Court blocked the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration from enforcing the large-employer vaccine mandate under an Emergency Temporary Standard. Physician offices are not subject to the mandate, but physicians and other providers admitting and/or treating patients in-person within a facility subject to CMS’ health and safety regulations and included in the mandate must be vaccinated so that the facility is compliant.
In many areas of the United States, the healthcare system is facing critical workforce shortages. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) encourages public health officials and healthcare facilities to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for managing healthcare personnel with SARS-CoV-2 infection or exposure to SARS-CoV-2. These guidelines allow for different levels of restrictions on staffing based on the level of shortages being experienced. However, in making these decisions, ASCO strongly encourages institutions and public health agencies to recognize the greater risk of infection and adverse outcomes that immune-suppressed individuals, including many patients with cancer, face from SARS-CoV-2 and to make decisions about staffing for the care of those individuals with thoughtful consideration of that greater risk. Unless no alternative exists, COVID-19 positive health workers, even if asymptomatic, should not be assigned to care for patients with cancer