By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Director of Health Policy
Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2014. According to the report, cancer death rates fell for 11 of the 16 most common cancers in men and 13 of the 16 most common cancers in women. Death rates fell for female breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancers, among others. The report also notes that incidences of cancer decreased in men but plateaued for women in the same time period.
ONS members are in the thick of the fight against cancer by providing evidence-based, patient-centered, coordinated care and furthering scientific research for symptom management and patient care. With mortality rates are falling, federal investment into research have been key. Funding makes a huge difference. However, recently proposed budget cuts submitted by the Trump administration have the potential to slash the NIH’s budget by 17%. These cuts could have a direct impact on cancer research, treatment, and cures in the future. ONS continues to works on a national level with various coalitions to support cancer research and funding.
Biden Continues Work on Cancer Moonshot
In the closing session at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, former Vice President Joe Biden renewed his commitment to the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, Cancer Letter reported. Biden had strong words for the Trump administration’s proposed budget plan, which would cut the National Institute of Health’s budget by nearly 17%. “This is no time to undercut progress, for God’s sake,” Biden said. “This is no time to let up. It’s time to double down.” Biden continued by saying that the Cancer Moonshot, up until this point, had seen “unprecedented levels of collaboration” in cancer research.
Biden said of the current administration, as well as the larger cancer community, “I know a little bit about collaboration. We can do more together than we can by working alone.” Concluding his speech, Biden doubled down on his commitment to the fight against cancer. He mentioned the formation of the Biden Cancer Initiative, a component of the Biden Foundation, which aims to continue the work of the National Cancer Moonshot. “The bad news for y’all is, I assure you I’m not going anywhere,” Biden said. “The reason I’m going to stay involved is because, for the first time in 45 years, there’s some real, significant movement and collaboration, which, in my view, is where the solution is most likely to lie to double our rate in the fight against cancer: engaging cancer centers, drug companies, insurance industries, patients, the government.”
GOP Looks to Revise Replacement Healthcare Plan
After the withdrawal of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in March, many have speculated about the next possible steps for healthcare reform. President Trump was upset and the White House noted that if Republican lawmakers couldn’t agree on a compromise, the administration would move on to other priorities. What’s certain is that House leadership needs time to revisit the repeal and replace plan. Conservative Republicans of the Freedom Caucus want to see more cuts to lower the financial burden, whereas moderate Republicans are hesitant to endorse further cuts, fearing they’d remove insurance access for many Americans.
Many voters are seeking out their representatives to give them feedback—both positive and negative—about a host of national and local issues. With a Congressional recess on the horizon, these breaks were once considered time for elected officials to return home, relax from the mayhem of Washington, and get back to their roots. Now, many are defending themselves and the system from angry constituents. While activists on the left and right gather up their bases, town hall meetings serve a purpose to remind legislators that they are accountable and that the people are watching. Participatory democracy works. Activism is important, and the role of oncology nurses in the healthcare discussion is essential. Keep up with ONS’s advocacy work on a local and national level.
ONS Submits Letter of Support for New ICD-10 CM Code
During the March 7-8, 2017, ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee Meeting, convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Health Statistics, David Berglund, MD, and Jeffrey Gudin, MD, presented supporting information on a new ICD-10-CM code for breakthrough cancer pain (BTCP).
Currently, only one code, G89.3, is available for describing chronic cancer-related pain, but it’s not specific for BTCP. The creation of a new BTCP code will help reduce barriers to health economic outcomes and epidemiologic research that are currently constrained by the absence of a code. ONS submitted a letter of support for the new code.