On July 23, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote two ONS priority bills that would provide palliative care training, awareness, and research and funding to build the nursing workforce.
The Palliative Care Hospice and Training Education Act (PCHETA), H.R. 1676, is a bipartisan bill with currently 285 cosponsors that would authorize grants for palliative care training, including for nurses and nurse faculty using a train-the-trainer model. In addition, the bill would raise public awareness of and disseminate information on the importance of palliative care in patients with serious illness, including cancer. Additionally, the bill would authorize the National Institutes of Health to direct existing funds toward palliative care research.
ONS’s position is that palliative care should be offered at the time of a cancer diagnosis and throughout a patient’s journey with cancer and therefore strongly supports the legislation to improve access to palliative care. Research clearly demonstrates that patients who receive palliative care by an interdisciplinary team of nurses, social workers, and providers of psychosocial and spiritual support show significant improvements in health outcomes and quality of life. ONS members have actively advocated for Congress to pass PCHETA for the past several years during its annual Hill Days and a recent Advocacy Day event. ONS will now focus its advocacy efforts on persuading more senators to join the current 29 cosponsors of S. 693, the Senate’s version of the bill, and expedite Senate passage.
Visit ONS’s palliative care page for ideas and resources for oncology nurses.
The House also passed the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, H.R. 959, which would reauthorize the nursing workforce development programs through fiscal year 2023 to strengthen the nursing workforce, including by providing student nursing loan repayment and scholarship programs. Like PCHETA, Title VIII is a critical element of ONS’s health policy agenda, and the program will help address primary care and nursing shortages to improve the U.S. healthcare delivery system and provide greater access to quality oncology nursing care. Additional advocacy will center around advancing the Senate version of the bill, S. 1109, as well.