By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director

Who’s Representing Nurses in Congress?

The new 116th Congress has settled in, and a clearer picture of the diverse freshman class has come to light. In this case, nursing is present and accounted for among incoming congressional representatives. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) is an RN who ran on her support for health care, specifically to protect those with pre-existing conditions. She’s already a co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus and has signed on to Title VIII nursing reauthorization legislation—something ONS has continually championed. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)—the first nurse ever elected to Congress—is entering her 13th term in the chamber and continues to offer a veteran nursing presence on the hill.

Moreover, former Clinton administration Department Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala (D-FL), took a seat in her Miami district. Through her position in the Clinton administration, she has obvious professional ties in the healthcare conversation. Equally important, Representative Shalala chaired the commission that authored the Institute of Medicine’s report on the Future of Nursing, calling for a stronger investment into the field. ONS is talking with both offices about opportunities to solidify their commitment to nurses. Feeling inspired? Get involved on Capitol Hill, in your local legislator’s office, and in your community today.

Four New States Join ACA Defense

In an ideal world, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would focus on providing the best health care to Americans. However, the fact remains that health care is often more about money than health. Medicaid costs, individual penalties, and now drug pricing are driving the conversation, and how these components affect a patient’s or family’s bottom line is key.

Four new states have joined the healthcare fray, finding that without the protection of the federal government, they’ll each be stuck paying for increases in health services for an expanding population—often a population that has limited health awareness and preventative services. Without ACA, the costs to most individual states are prohibitive, but many are standing on principle to support a person’s right to access affordable health care. ONS is active in the conversation, and oncology nurse advocates are sharing their stories with policymakers and making a huge impact.

Jill Biden Reaffirms Cancer Moonshot Mission

In President Trump’s State of the Union address, he referenced the bipartisan support for the Cancer Moonshot Initiative. Although its mission is now housed outside the government through the Biden Foundation, hundreds of millions of dollars in federally allocated funding are still in place for different agencies. In an interview with Startup Health, honorary ONS member Jill Biden reaffirmed the importance of the Moonshot’s mission, emphasizing how collaboration between the public and private sectors is key. To Biden, many critical government agencies could help transform cancer care in the United States.

Through funding allocations, the National Cancer Institute has been given the bulk of the resources for the Cancer Moonshot, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Defense have centers dedicated to achieving the Moonshot goals as well. Biden’s interview is meant to help raise awareness for more open and cooperative working relationships between organizations and federal agencies, and the Biden Foundation is redoubling its efforts in this area to drive interest.

ONS plays a key role in these conversations, as ONS Past President Susan Schneider, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, and ONS’s Chief Executive Officer Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, are board members for the Biden Foundation. ONS advocates will be vital in the fight for Moonshot funding, so consider lending your voice and experience to ONS’s health policy efforts and the Biden Foundation’s #cancerFIERCE efforts.