Title VIII Support; Trump's 2021 Federal Budget; Ineffective E-Cigarette Ban

March 02, 2020 by Chris Pirschel ONS Staff Writer/Producer, and Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

ONS Member Calls for Title VIII Support

When oncology nurses speak, people listen (https://voice.ons.org/stories/advocate-in-your-own-backyard). An op-ed column published February 24, 2020, written by ONS member Janice Phillips, PhD, RN, FAAN, outlined the potential harm (https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/484316-support-for-nursing-is-good-for-the-nations-health) to the future of health care and the nursing profession if the Trump administration’s budget cuts (https://www.ons.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/NCCPresidentsFY2021BudgetFINAL.pdf) are approved. As an oncology nurse, Phillips’ insights have made a difference in Washington before, and she explained that the budget cuts could target key funding for items like nursing development and workforce programs.

Although the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act passed (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/two-ons-health-policy-priorities-pass-the-house-thanks-to-2019-capitol-hill-days) in the House of Representatives, it’s been languishing in the Senate since the end of 2019. The bill has bipartisan support and many advocates believe it will pass, but trepidation about the process has led some to question its future. With the presidential election in 2020, many policy issues have been put on hold. Congressional representatives are circulating a dear colleague letter—a note to other members of a congressional chamber—encouraging support for Title VIII. ONS joined the Nursing Community Coalition’s effort to get more signatures, and it remains a cornerstone of ONS policy efforts (https://www.ons.org/make-difference/ons-center-advocacy-and-health-policy/position-statements/nurse-staffing-ambulatory-treatment-centers).

Health Care Cut Aggressively in Trump Administration 2021 Budget

Procedure dictates that following the State of the Union Address, the presidential administration submits its federal budget (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/the-federal-budget-as-a-political-document). To elected officials and the American public, budgets are political documents (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/the-federal-budget-as-a-political-document) and signal the policy areas most important to the administration. For the 2021 budget, Trump focused on eliminating further elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2761532), a focal point for his administration in the past (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/presidents-budget-https:/voice.ons.org/advocacy/presidents-budget-proposal-recommends-severe-cuts-to-hhsproposal-recommends-severe-cuts-to-hhs).

Throughout the document, there are aggressive cuts to ACA programs, patient protections, and public service expansions. Congressional staff have emphasized that the budget is essentially dead on arrival, and so the compromises begin. ONS submitted its comments (https://www.ons.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/NCCPresidentsFY2021BudgetFINAL.pdf) addressing the president’s proposed budgets, and ONS advocates are actively educating congressional staff and representatives about the importance of quality care. Join your voice to the advocacy efforts (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/get-involved) and effect change for your patients and your profession.

E-Cigarette Flavor Ban Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Despite an initial commitment (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/ninr-acting-director-vaping-flavor-ban-drug-pricing-2020) to curb the youth smoking epidemic (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/surgeon-general-declares-youth-vaping-an-epidemic), in late 2019 the Trump administration eased on many of its stricter regulations to ban flavored tobacco products (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/trump-vaping-meeting-drug-pricing-stalemate-dc-sues-juul). Although the national smoking age was raised to 21 earlier in 2020, on February 25, two smoking cessation advocates declared that the government has been acting in half measures (https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/484598-hold-the-applause-e-cigs-flavor-ban-is-no-ban-at-all).

They reported that current restrictions do little to prevent underage smoking and called for more action. ONS is holding a congressional briefing on youth vaping in March 2020 and is working with other organizations to further the smoking cessation message (https://www.ons.org/make-a-difference/advocacy-policy/coalitions). Several members of Congress are committed to the issue, and oncology nurses can provide education and a view of the patient experience (https://voice.ons.org/stories/providing-expert-testimony-in-the-virginia-state-senate).

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