alec stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

In divisive times, fewer congressional bills find their way to the president’s desk without considerable bipartisan support. The dance of legislation is complex. Maneuvering through the legislative terrain and avoiding political landmines requires partnerships, expert data, and—at times—a little bit of luck. In the case of the Cancer Care Planning and Communications Act (H.R. 3835), that’s the story so far.

Reintroduced by U.S. Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Buddy Carter (R-GA), the House bill would provide patients with cancer a plan for treatment and survivorship. DeSaulnier—a survivor himself—and Carter—the only pharmacist in Congress—teamed up to promote better access to patient-centered care and support during and after the transition to survivorship.

The representatives discovered that most patients do not receive a formal written plan for their cancer journey despite the scientific evidence that a written plan is essential in care, treatment, symptom management education, and positive patient outcomes.

“We know that less than half of all patients with cancer feel adequately informed about their diagnosis. Without a written plan explaining treatments and expected symptoms, patients are often left with more questions than answers,” DeSaulnier said.

Adding his support for the legislation, Carter noted, “As a pharmacist for more than 30 years, I have cared for many patients with cancer and survivors, and I also have personal experience dealing with my father’s battles with cancer. I’ve seen firsthand that patients should be focused on getting better instead of trying to navigate the complexities of their diagnosis without clear direction or knowing what to expect from their care, especially as cancer treatment choices become more advanced.”

ONS has championed the bill through its coalition partners and supports further care coordination and navigation in practice. Nurses are essential to care planning conversations and have the power to educate lawmakers through their expertise and experience. Consider adding your voice to the advocacy conversation today and get involved at the local, state, or national level.