The 115th U.S. Congress was sworn into office on January 3, 2017. Capitol Hill was abuzz with congratulatory smiles, wide-eyed optimism, and not a small amount of relief for those who survived last November’s election.
The first item on the agenda is to repeal and replace
the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Even the most hardened ideologues had a bipartisan spirit in the air, as most recognized the ritual as a long testament to democracy in a free society. It’s a special time in our nation’s capital where all the newly elected officials are Americans before party loyalists.
That lasted for about a day. Once the Republicans seized majorities in both chambers and looked to the White House and the new Administration, campaign promises were upheld and a new era began in politics. The first item on the agenda is to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Admittedly, the bill had many problems, with costs, oversight, and implementation topping the list. But a recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that millions of previously uninsured Americans obtained health coverage through the ACA. Republicans are currently grappling with how best to repeal elements of the legislation while maintaining those individuals’ access. Similarly, Democrats are sorting out their priorities and crafting a healthcare agenda with specific goals.
What are the opportunities? Compromise. Both sides are seeking political wins but also real policy changes that will have direct effects on America’s health care. It’s a complicated, integrated, and contentious topic with no easy answers. But, the one thing last year’s election results agreed on is that people are tired of politics as usual and want real reform.
This is where ONS can continue to demonstrate leadership. Nurses are, once again, the most trusted healthcare providers and will be relied on for their interest in patient-centered care, led by evidence-based research, to find better treatments and cures. Congressional leadership has shifted and powerful committees will have new chairs. ONS and oncology nurses have a chance to weigh in on access, affordability, workforce safety, investment in research, and public health. This is a rare time in Washington— nurses must take advantage of their great reputation and advocate. Now, more than ever, your voice is needed.
Keep up with the latest health policy issues from ONS at www.ons.org/advocacy-policy.