Kansas ONS Chapters Advocate for Health Policy With Federal and State Leaders
Over the summer, I coordinated a now all-too-familiar exercise: a Zoom call with multiple ONS Kansas-area chapter members, nurse experts, patient advocates, and elected officials. Spearheaded by the ONS National Office, we hosted an incredibly personal and informative conversation to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus, how it affects patients with cancer, and the legislative and regulatory environment throughout our state. Our bipartisan, multitiered event brought together oncology nurses from across the state, and, although some political views were different, we united in our commitment to nurses and public health.
Nurse Legislator’s Healthcare Affordability Act Included in Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act
Legislation aimed at reducing health care insurance premiums, introduced by U.S. Representative Lauren A. Underwood (D-IL), is included as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act.
Cures 2.0 Act Would Expand on the Successes of 21st Century Cures Legislation
Building on the success of the 21st Century Cures Act passed in 2016, U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) have begun work on the follow-up Cures 2.0 Act, intended to “safely and efficiently modernize the delivery of health care in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” the representatives said in a press release.
ONS Calls for Action to Support the Nurse’s Role in Reducing the Global Burden of Cancer
Nurses serve a critical and proven role in reducing the burden of cancer and improving the lives of patients with cancer. Yet, for millions of people across the globe, access to health care is not a given, and nurses don’t have the educational and occupational support to perform to their full abilities.
100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage Reminds Us of the Power of Our Vote
The revolutionary declaration written 244 years ago, proclaiming that “all men are created equal,” maintains that a true democracy must be based on an individual’s right to vote and the freedom to exercise that power at the ballot box. Since 1998, women voters have embodied that concept, achieving a majority vote with higher rates than men. Of registered women voters, 55% went to the polls in 2018, compared to only 51% of registered men. Yet today women account for only 23.2% of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 26% of the U.S. Senate.
FCC and USDA Partner for Rural Telehealth Initiative
Rural Americans are more likely to have a fatal cancer diagnosis and face additional concerns like fewer hospitals and physicians in a “one-size-fits-all” healthcare system. To address the disparities, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to form the Rural Telehealth Initiative.
Be a Catalyst for Change Like Justice Ginsburg
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was known for being a fighter—for women’s rights and equality, social justice, and even her own health, battling five bouts of cancer diagnoses. On Friday, September 18, 2020, the 87-year-old passed away from metastatic pancreatic cancer.
The Public Trusts Nurses’ Voices During Health Emergencies
The cacophony that echoes through the 24-hour news cycle can be heavy on an average day but overwhelming during a global health pandemic. That is why relying on a trusted voice is essential when attempting to understand how to deal with the voluminous information that bombards us through radio, television, emails, social media, and any other channels that deem themselves news outlets these days.
NCI-Partnered Global Research Initiative Confronts Tough Barriers to Cancer Progress
Since its inception in 2015, Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK) Cancer Grand Challenges initiative has led an international research effort to address the toughest barriers to progress in oncology, investing more than $130 million into seven international, multidisciplinary teams—total of 73 researcher groups in nine countries.
Pandemic Advocacy; PPE Shortage List; Nurse Uncovers Data Error
Nurses are experts in advocating for their patients’ care. Taking those skills to Washington, DC, and speaking out for changes in federal health policy can have just as much impact. Even in an era of social distancing and travel restrictions, oncology nurses can bring their message to the local, state, and federal leaders to bring about change.
Did COVID-19 Transform Traditional American Politics?
Mastering the rules and regulations of democracy has been a capital city—both federal and state—game of power for more than 200 years. Those written, and too often presumed, procedures govern the process and provide a roadmap for legislators to strategize on how best to advance their agendas and campaign promises.
House of Representatives; Nurse Scientists; Women in Congress
Cori Bush, a nurse and Black Lives Matter activist, beat U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay (D-MO), a sitting 20-year incumbent, to win the Democratic nomination in St. Louis, MO. Bush will be the newest nurse to U.S. Congress, should she win her seat in November, which is highly likely. She’d join the ranks of U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to bring a critical nursing perspective directly to the United States’ legislative branch.
President Trump Issues Executive Orders on Prescription Drug Pricing
In July 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump issued four executive orders to provide solutions to the ever-increasing price of prescription medications. One of the top domestic issues in healthcare is the price of prescription medication, particularly those deemed lifesaving, such as insulin for diabetics and drugs for patients with cancer.
Trump Uses Executive Orders to Lower Drug Pricing
As one of the only not-entirely-pandemic-related health policy topics currently in policymakers’ discussions, lawmakers are again revisiting the high cost of prescription drugs. Voters have voiced concerns in the current economic climate, and, eager to appease in the months before the November presidential election, the Trump administration responded.
Nurse-Turned-Policymaker; Prescription Drug Reform; Safer Working Conditions
As one of the youngest members of the 2018 freshman congressional class, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL) has already made quite a name for herself. Eschewing, for the most part in this heightened environment, partisanship and instead concentrating on health and economic issues, the representative champions access and affordability for all Americans.
FDA Launches Pilot Program on Patient-Reported Outcomes
Facilitating the provision of patient-centered care is an ONS priority. But until recently, quality information from the patient’s perspective was limited. This kind of information is often unavailable, limited in its breadth, or solicited from patients too late in the healthcare process, making their experience less understandable than necessary. In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Oncology Center of Excellence created a pilot program, called Project Patient Voice, that will make patient-reported symptoms from cancer trials available to the public.
NIH Appoints New NINR Director
Beginning this fall, the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) will have a nurse in a permanent position to lead the agency. On July 1, 2020, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) named Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, as its new director. Zenk is currently a nursing collegiate professor in the Department of Population Health Nursing Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, and a fellow at the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy.
NINR Addresses Racism and Reinforces Mission on Positive Health Outcomes
More research funding is needed to learn about and address health disparities in African Americans in the United States, Tara Schwetz, PhD, National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) acting director, said in an open letter to the research community. In the bold announcement, NINR recognized the unequal treatment of minorities and the need for enhanced dedication to promote equality in nursing research.
All Politics Is Local, and That’s Why You Should Get Involved in ONS Advocacy
One of the ways ONS celebrated Oncology Nursing Month in May was with CEO Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, interviewing U.S. Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL) about advocacy and nursing. Miami ONS Chapter Board Member Lissette Gomez-Rios, MSN, OCN®, ONS Director-at-Large Anne Ireland, MSN, RN, AOCN®, CENP, and I also had the opportunity to ask Shalala some questions.
Nurses Obliged to End Racism; Tobacco Industry's Manipulative Marketing
Along with many other healthcare organizations, including ONS, last week the American Nurses Association (ANA) took a bold stand against racism, calling it a public health crisis. On June 12, 2020, ANA President Earnest Grant shared how racism is embedded in health care and what nurses should do to end it.
How the CARES Act and Other COVID-19 Laws Affect Nursing and Health Care
Like cancer, viruses know no political parties, no country boundaries, and no personal attributes. As the COVID-19 coronavirus spread in an infectious wave across the earth in record time, it decimated economies and devastated populations. To defend their countries against an invisible enemy, governments around the world stepped in with unprecedented command.
NCC Sends Letter to U.S. Congress Outlining COVID-19 Priorities
Fifty-seven organizations representing the Nursing Community Coalition (NCC), including ONS, sent a letter to the U.S. Congress acknowledging the federal government’s extraordinary attempts to bolster the economy and promote public health during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. In the April 28, 2020, letter, NCC provided recommendations that could be used to further combat the coronavirus, adding that the 57 national nursing organizations are available as expert resources.
Proposed Bill Would Expand Health Workforce in Underserved Communities
The global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced elected officials and political leaders to reevaluate the provision of health care in the United States. To address inequal access to care and representation among health professionals, on April 24, 2020, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Democratic Whip and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Health Heroes 2020 Act, a bicameral piece of legislation.
NIH Partners With Johnson and Johnson to Combat COVID-19
Long hailed as the “crown jewel” of the U.S. government’s biomedical research division, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is partnering with Johnson and Johnson for a coordinated, team-based effort to find measures with meaningful impact on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Healthcare for All Is a Competing Idea in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election
When standing up for patients, championing treatments, or stopping an unfair process, nurses speak truth to power. Being on the front lines is part of every nurse’s routine, but many shy away from engaging in the policy world under similar circumstances that affect the profession, patients, and peers. It doesn’t have to be that way. Nurses can educate themselves on the candidates and policy issues and lend their voice to the political conversation.
Federal Agencies Collaborate; Nurse Proposes Healthcare Bill; NCI Shifts Research to COVID-19
It’s all hands on deck to combat a pandemic from an unknown virus, and researchers everywhere—even from seemingly unrelated disciplines like oncology—are jumping in to study tests, vaccines, and treatments. Effective May 5, 2020, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is partnering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other federal agencies to research antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
A Perspective on COVID-19 for New and Student Nurses
COVID-19 coronavirus’s ripple effects extend so far beyond health and health care. Life in the United States doesn’t look the same as it did a few months ago. We’re all affected in some way, but senior nursing students have a distinct set of circumstances related to the pandemic.
Legislators Urge President to Respond to PPE Shortage
Healthcare providers still lack sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely treat patients with COVID-19 coronavirus. Citing insufficient federal coordination, members of Congress urged the Trump administration follow through on implementing the $16 million PPE funding provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
PPE Protests; COVID-19 Health Disparities; Nursing Home Fears
On April 21, 2020, a handful of nurses protested outside the White House to urge the president to respond to the critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE)—and other nurses around the country have been speaking out as well.
Vaping, E-Cigarettes, and Flavored Tobacco Are Reversing 20 Years of Decreasing Smoking Rates
The public push for a transformation in tobacco policy began with a persistent legislator seeking real change. Opening his historic congressional hearing in 1994, U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, “The truth is that cigarettes are the single most dangerous consumer product ever sold. Nearly a half million Americans die every year as a result of tobacco. This is an astounding, almost incomprehensible statistic. Imagine our nation’s outrage if two fully loaded jumbo jets crashed each day, killing all aboard. Yet that is the same number of Americans that cigarettes kill every 24 hours. Sadly, this deadly habit begins with our kids. Each day 3,000 children will begin smoking. In many cases they become hooked quickly and develop a life-long addiction that is nearly impossible to break.”
'Lost on the Front Lines'; Physicians Campaign Congress; Policymakers on COVID-19
Healthcare workers in the United States accounted for 20% of all deaths caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to date. The Guardian and Kaiser Health News partnered to document every healthcare worker who’s died from COVID-19 in response to the absence of a reliable nationwide database.
International Position Statement Calls for Advocacy for COVID-19 in Oncology Nurses and Patients With Cancer
Oncology nurses must advocate for prevention and control of the COVID-19 coronavirus to minimize the risk to themselves and the patients with cancer in their care, the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC) announced in its April 2, 2020, COVID-19 Position Statement. ONS is a full member of ISNCC.
Title VIII Nursing Workforce Funding Included in CARES Act
The business shutdowns and mandatory social distancing from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic brought the country’s economy to the brink. Last week, the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 was included as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s comprehensive, landmark legislation. The $2 trillion aid package was geared to promote public health and boost economic confidence.
Public Policies Protect Healthcare Worker Safety During COVID-19
One of the highest health policy priorities for the nursing community during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is to ensure the safety of healthcare workers, particularly regarding the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
WHO Director-General Encourages Global Collaboration to ‘Flatten the Curve’
As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to circle the globe, nations look to a strong source that can help coordinate information and provide insight for all people. Under the leadership of the director-general, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been that trustworthy entity. Tracking, reporting, and coordinating COVID-19’s many aspects, WHO is a hub that allows public health officials worldwide to receive information in real time.
Democrats Draft Fourth COVID-Response Bill; Trump Extends Social Distancing; Some Legislation Perpetuates Nursing Shortage
On March 30, 2020, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives began drafting a fourth COVID-19 coronavirus relief package to include substantial infrastructure investments, said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi said the legislation could be ready for a vote by late April.
State Legislatures Are Incubators for Advocacy Advancement
“To stay experimentation in things social and economic is a grave responsibility. Denial of the right to experiment may be fraught with serious consequences to the nation. It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
Today, More Than Ever, Nurses Are Imperative to the World of Healthcare Advocacy
By all accounts, the 2020 political environment is one of the most contentious in American history. The two parties that dominate the political system, liberal and conservative, are even more entrenched in their separate ideals and doubling down during the presidential election cycle. The federal budget, immigration, and health care are the top issues discussed around the watercooler, kitchen table, and coffee shops—and of course the president’s impeachment is looming large.
Legislation Raises Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21
Smoking cessation efforts had been gaining ground for decades. Tobacco use and smoking rates were dropping, year after year, as prevention and awareness campaigns worked to codify the dangers of tobacco. People weren’t just quitting smoking; people were avoiding the habit altogether—until the advent of vaping. Reversing a decade-long decline in smoking rates, e-cigarettes and vaping products have engendered an entirely new generation of would-be smokers to pick up the habit. Targeting underage users, the vaping industry experienced a boom. The issue grew with such ferocity that the U.S. Surgeon General declared a youth vaping epidemic in 2019.
Why It Takes So Long for a Healthcare Bill to Become a Law
Constitutional provisions, whose primary purposes are to create obstacles, govern the process that a bill goes through before it becomes law. The founders believed that efficiency was the hallmark of oppressive government, and they wanted to be sure that laws that actually passed all the hurdles were the well-considered result of inspection by many eyes.
Two ONS Health Policy Priorities Pass the House, Thanks to 2019 Capitol Hill Days
Participants in ONS’s Fourth Annual Capitol Hill Days quickly saw the fruits of their efforts when two ONS priority bills were passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2019. The yearly advocacy, education, and training event, held September 22–24, brought 110 ONS activists to Washington, DC, for two days of sessions, briefings, updates, and meetings. The advocates engaged in 55 hours of intensive political and policy analysis, enabling them to take the Society’s health policy priority agenda to the U.S. Congress and help transform the future of health care in the United States.
NCI’s 2021 Budget Plan Showcases Its Promise to Provide for, Foster, and Aid Cancer Research
Once considered a death sentence, a cancer diagnosis was distressing and difficult on many levels. However, for the past 50 years the United States has been committed to finding treatments and cures for cancer; we have turned a corner, reversing devastating trends and changing the prognosis to one of survivorship for many.
U.S. House of Representatives Passes Two ONS Priority Bills
ONS is a critical voice in the advocacy arena, helping to steward bills that are important to the future of oncology nursing practice and successful patient-centered care. On October 28, 2019, two ONS priority bills—the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R. 647) and the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 728)—passed the U.S. House of Representatives with unanimous bipartisan support.
Texas Nurses Show Advocacy in Action by Bringing the Message Home to Policymakers
As the largest ONS chapter in the United States with more than 2,000 members, the Houston ONS Chapter is primed to make an impact with the state’s lawmakers. In August 2019, chapter members did just that, combining forces with other local chapters for a pilot event featuring ONS policy education and advocacy training deep in the heart of Texas. Almost 100 ONS members participated to get support and education to speak with decision makers about the needs of the profession as well as the patients oncology nurses serve.
CDC Vaping Illnesses; ONS Capitol Hill Days; CA Calls to End Vaping
Vaping has become a national health issue on Capitol Hill. With more teens than ever using the devices, along with reports connecting lung injury and respiratory illness with vaping, policymakers are eager to understand the problem and act swiftly. Part of the problem includes the high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol and nicotine in vaping products. Congress is working to address the problem through several legislative bills, but few are moving as fast as the public health impact seen in news reports.
Your Words Matter, So Use Them to Advocate for Change
When my son was in nursery school, his teachers encouraged him to express his frustration with others by “using his words” rather than lashing out in some other nonproductive way. I was reminded of the power of words delivered by a compelling speaker when watching a video of the comedian and advocate, Jon Stewart, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee about the needs of 9/11 first responders. His passion was evident in his voice, in his emotionally laden pauses, and in the words that he used to describe the ongoing healthcare concerns of those heroes. His strong testimony moved the committee and House to support the legislation, pass it on to the Senate, and send it to President Trump’s desk, where he signed it into law in July 2019. Stewart told a convincing story to bring others to action.