ONS Represents Voice of All Nurses in President’s Cancer Panel Stakeholder Meeting
In April 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the country’s first formal National Cancer Plan (NCP) under the Cancer Moonshot. It serves as a framework to guide the broad contributions across society in the United States’ work to “end cancer as we know it.”
This Week's Advocacy News: 'Sanders, Cassidy Clash as Senate Panel Advances Health Center Funding'
The Senate Health Committee advanced legislation Thursday that would fund community health centers and increase the number of primary care physicians and nurses, despite a clash between the panel’s top members. The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee advanced the bill in a bipartisan 14-7 vote; however, it’s unclear if the bill has the support necessary to pass the full Senate, especially before funding expires September 30.
Nursing Advocacy Creates Real Change in Health Policy
“Advocacy is a pillar of nursing. Nurses instinctively advocate for their patients, in their workplaces, and in their communities, but legislative and political advocacy is no less important to advancing the profession and patient care.” —American Nurses Association
Nurse Leads Relaunch of Bipartisan Assisting Caregivers Today Caucus
To provide education about the challenges family caregivers face and advocate for policies that support them, U.S. Representatives Jen Kiggans (R-VA), a geriatric nurse practitioner and veteran, and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), along with U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), relaunched the bipartisan Assisting Caregivers Today Caucus in June 2023.
U.S. Congress Members Call for Overdue Review, Enforcement of E-Cigarettes Still on Market
U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), along with more than 50 members of the U.S. Congress, wrote a letter in June 2023 calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to abide by a court-ordered deadline to review outstanding Premarket Tobacco Product Applications for e-cigarette products that remain on the market without approval. The call comes after FDA failed to meet the initial deadline of September 9, 2021, to complete its review of all pending e-cigarette applications.
COVID-19 Pandemic and the Supply Chain Among Reasons for the 2022 Drug Shortages, FDA Says
In its annual report to the U.S. Congress on drug shortages, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cited the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain problems, and approval processes as reasons for the shortages during the 2022 calendar year.
FDA Takes Action on Youth E-Cigarette Usage With Warning Letters to Retailers
In a record number of outreaches, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters in June 2023 to 189 retailers for selling unauthorized tobacco products. Two notable brands included in the warning, Elf Bar and Esco Bars, sell disposable e-cigarettes that come in flavors that appeal to youth, such as bubblegum and cotton candy.
Prescription Medication Legislation Helps Americans Access Affordable Care
In 2019, the mood was hopeful. As we looked ahead to the next decade, Republicans and Democrats in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate appeared to be at a consensus point on a major policy issue: access to affordable prescription medications for the American public.
U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to Help Medicare Patients Receive Cancer Screening Tests
To increase access to and coverage for innovative tests that can detect multiple types of cancer, U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) reintroduced the Medicare Multicancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act. Bipartisan companion legislation was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Bipartisan PCHETA Legislation Reintroduced in U.S. Senate
Reinforcing a commitment that palliative care is a priority, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) reintroduced the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), an ONS health policy priority that benefits both patients and healthcare providers, in July 2023. The bipartisan legislation would bolster the palliative care and hospice workforce and meet the increasing need for care by investing in training, education, and research.
Biden-Harris Administration Launches Initiative to Improve Cancer Outcomes in Low-Income Areas
Alleviating the effects of persistent poverty on cancer outcomes requires building research capacity, fostering cancer prevention research, and promoting the implementation of community-based programs. To enhance the United States’ capacity to do so, the Biden-Harris administration awarded $50 million in June 2023 to create five new Centers for Cancer Control Research in Persistent Poverty Areas that will advance the Cancer Moonshot’s priorities.
ONS Member Fights Health Inequities at State Level as Assistant Director of Illinois Department of Public Health
ONS member Janice Phillips, PhD, RN, CENP, FAAN, took the reins as the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDHP’s) latest assistant director in July 2023. Her new role positions Phillips, a longtime ONS advocate, to eliminate health disparities and inequities by establishing and strengthening collaboration between IDPH and community partners across the state.
Legislators Reintroduce Bill to Cut Prescription Drug Costs for Older Adults
In bipartisan, bicameral effort to help older adults save money when choosing a Medicare healthcare plan, Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), and Tom Carper (D-DE) and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH), reintroduced the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Part D Choice Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in May 2023. The legislation allows Medicare-only PACE participants to choose between the PACE Part D plan or a standalone Medicare Part D plan without incurring high Part D premiums.
United States and European Union Form Joint Task Force to Tackle Global Health Issues
Joining two powerful entities may be what it takes to overcome cancer and global health threats and improve health architecture around the world. In May 2023, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and the European Union Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides announced that the countries had formed the EU–U.S. Health Task Force, a new joint effort to address global health.
U.S. Senators Introduce Legislation for Earlier Palliative Care
Patients must receive palliative care earlier in their disease trajectory, while they’re still in active treatment, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Deb Fischer (R-NE) said. Working in rare bipartisan fashion, in June 2023 they reintroduced the Expanding Access to Palliative Care Act to pay for Medicare beneficiaries to receive comprehensive palliative care services concurrently with curative therapy.
White House Appoints Mandy Cohen as New CDC Director
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, both the Trump and Biden-Harris administrations used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a primary authority to collect and disseminate information about the virus. Although the public initially lauded the agency’s efforts, the changing protocols and communication directions. In Washington, DC’s, often-polarizing political environment, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, bore the brunt of the blame, and in May 2023, she announced her resignation effective June 30.
U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Jerry Moran Reintroduce Oral Parity for Cancer Drugs Bill
Equal reimbursement for oral versus IV anticancer agents—also known as oral parity—has been a legislative priority for ONS since the first bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress eight years ago. Working through ONS’s broad coalitions, ONS members have championed patient access to oral anticancer therapies to the seven remaining states without a similar law on the books. Building on that work, on June 15, 2023, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) reintroduced the bipartisan Cancer Drug Parity Act to further support that goal.
Biomarker Testing Changes Treatment Plans, State Legislations Change Laws for Survivorship
Biomedical breakthroughs for cancer have enhanced research and discovery at record rates, giving patients extraordinary survivorship opportunities. It is a remarkable, unprecedented time. At the vanguard of understanding is the role of biomarkers and identifying each patient’s unique cancer signature through biomarker testing. Through the testing process, patients and providers can better determine an appropriate, individualized treatment path.
Worsening Immigration Backlogs Delay One Strategy for U.S. Nursing Shortage
A battalion of trained nurse reinforcements is waiting just outside the U.S. borders, eager to help alleviate the nursing shortage, but the system that lets international nurses enter and work in the United States is heavily congested. And according to the U.S. State Department’s June 2023 Visa Bulletin, the backlog is only worsening.
Medicare Part D Restructure Gives CMS the Ability to Negotiate Drug Prices
Health care consumes an inordinate amount of the U.S. gross domestic product at 18.3%. In 2021, healthcare spending increased by 2.7% to $4.3 trillion, equating to $12,914 per person annually. Under that average, prescription medications are the highest expenditure. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Retail prescription drug spending increased 7.8% to $378.0 billion in 2021, a faster rate than in 2020 when spending increased by 3.7%. The acceleration in growth was due to an increase in the use of prescription drugs in 2021.” On top of that staggering national economic impact are the personal, emotional, and familial burdens that take a toll on patients and caregivers.
President Biden Signs Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers
Calling it “the most comprehensive set of executive actions any president has ever taken to make care more affordable and accessible for hardworking families and further support care workers and family caregivers,” the Biden-Harris administration announced a series of executive orders to broaden the availability of support services and resource across the United States. The April 2023 order included more than 50 directives for government agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services.
Oncology Clinician, Researcher, Advocate—and Patient Herself—to Become Second Woman to Lead NIH
Praising her vision and leadership as a world-renowned surgical oncologist, cancer researcher, and educator, on May 15, 2023, the White House announced President Joe Biden’s nomination of Monica Bertagnolli, MD, as the next National Institutes of Health director.
ONS Joins Sponsoring Organizations to Support 118th Congressional Nursing Caucus
To strengthen and advance policies for nurses, U.S. Representatives Dave Joyce (D-OH), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), and Jen Kiggans (R-VA) launched the 118th Congressional Nursing Caucus in April 2023. Joyce and Bonamici are the caucus co-chairs, and Underwood, an RN, and Kiggans, a geriatric nurse practitioner, serve as vice chairs. ONS is a sponsoring organization in support of the caucus’s congressional efforts.
FDA Files Complaints Against Four E-Cigarette Product Manufacturers
In an attempt to strongly regulate the e-cigarettes and vapes industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration filed civil money penalty complaints against four tobacco product manufacturers for manufacturing and selling e-liquid products without authorization. The action marks the first time FDA has filed CMP complaints against tobacco product manufacturers to enforce the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act’s premarket review requirements for new tobacco products.
Public Health Emergency Funding Ends, HHS Provides Transition
With the anticipated end of the public health emergency looming after three years of being consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Xavier Becerra, secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services, wrote a letter to state governors praising their efforts in the pandemic, offering a supportive hand, and highlighting the Biden-Harris administration’s accomplishments in combating COVID-19.
It’s Time to Stop E-Cigarette Manufacturers From Blowing Smoke About Youth Tobacco Use
Joe Camel, the Marlboro Man, and the women who’ve “come a long way, baby” with Virginia Slims are marketing mascots that created an image of smoking as cool, chic, and classy—a concept that’s still cemented in the minds of many Americans today. For the past 30 years, public awareness campaigns have battled that belief among young people to dramatically curtail underage smoking, finally reaching a real reduction in youth tobacco use.
Cancer Knows No Party, but Politicians Proudly Proclaim Their Prognoses and Promote Policy
From President Richard Nixon’s war on cancer in 1971 to President Joe Biden’s commitment to “ending cancer as we know it” in 2022, fighting the disease has been a bipartisan focus. Yet in that era, when cancer hit home, policymakers often hushed their own diagnoses. But times change, and many of today’s lawmakers are now boldly sharing their personal experiences with cancer as inspiration for action.
Cultural Educational Classic Schoolhouse Rock! Turns 50 and Continues to Educate
Schoolhouse Rock! celebrated its 50th anniversary in January 2023. The Saturday morning cartoons debuted in 1973 and brought school lessons on a variety of subjects, including government and democracy, to children through catchy yet educational lyrics and beats.
NIH Hosts Tribute Ceremony as Anthony Fauci, MD, Bids Government Service Farewell
The United States commemorated Anthony Fauci’s, MD, retirement from government service during a tribute ceremony held at the National Institutes of Health’s campus in Maryland in December 2022. Fauci served more than 50 years in government and 38 years as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Will End in Late Spring 2023
After more than two years of heightening response and awareness in every corner of U.S. society, the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency (PHE) and national emergency is sticking around a few months longer. Originally set to expire on March 1 and April 11, respectively, both will finally come to an end on May 11, 2023, the Biden-Harris administration announced in January.
With Patient and Persistent Advocacy, Nurses Help Pass Critical Healthcare Legislation
In the final days of 2022, as the world turned the calendar to celebrate a new year, the cancer advocacy community also celebrated: One of ONS’s longtime priority bills, the Lymphedema Treatment Act, achieved a landmark legislative win, passing the U.S. Senate as part of the fiscal year 2023 omnibus funding package. President Biden signed it into law on December 29, 2022, securing access to treatment supplies for patients with cancer-related lymphedema.
Biden-Harris Administration’s COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan Improves Resource Availability
To try to get ahead of a feared increase of COVID-19 cases over the winter, the Biden-Harris administration released a COVID-19 winter preparedness plan in December 2022 that focuses on making vaccinations, testing, and other resources easily accessible.
Legislators Introduce Bill for Cancer Survivorship
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) introduced the Comprehensive Cancer Survivorship Act in December 2022 to address gaps in survivorship care and formulate standards to improve quality of cancer care and navigation needs of survivors.
Healthcare Economics Through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and Beyond
Sick. Americans are literally sick of the financial burden vulnerable patients endure because of high out-of-pocket, healthcare-related costs. The complicated and convoluted issue has no easy solution.
Nurses’ Voices Have Particular Power in Health Policy
Midterm elections occurring halfway through a U.S. president’s first cycle are a referendum on that administration’s policies. Unable to take out their frustrations directly with the country’s chief executive, voters historically punish the president’s party at the ballot box. Still, politics is about people, and political scientists discourage attempts to quantify reactions and unexpected results. November 2022’s realignment of the federal power structure was an expected outcome.
Lymphedema Treatment Act Passes U.S. House, Seeks Support in U.S. Senate
The Lymphedema Treatment Act, a key piece of legislation for ONS’s health policy priorities, passed the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2022. The bill is now in the U.S. Senate for review along its journey to becoming law.
NCI Releases Annual Plan and Budget Proposal for 2024
Along with outlining monetary spending for the upcoming years, the National Cancer Institute’s 2024 annual plan and budget proposal highlights areas of opportunity to advance cancer research, Douglas R. Lowy, MD, who was NCI acting director at the time, said in a September 2022 NCI’s director message.
Arati Prabhakar Becomes First Woman and Person of Color as U.S. Presidential Advisor for Science and Technology
The U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of Arati Prabhakar, PhD, as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and chief advisor to the president for science and technology in September 2022, making her the first woman and person of color confirmed to lead OSTP.
Policy Investments in Biomarkers Are Changing Cancer Outcomes
Since the late 1990s, U.S. Congress has made a concerted effort to increase federal funding for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) biomedical research and clinical trials. Through rare but always bipartisan largess, legislative appropriators have seen the benefits of investing in the science for precision medicine; supporting genetic-grounded, patient-centered care; and changing the quality and longevity of life for millions of people, including those with cancer diagnoses.
FDA and DOJ File Permanent Injunctions Against Six E-Cigarette Manufacturers
The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, filed complaints for permanent injunctions against six e-cigarette manufacturers in October 2022. It was the first time FDA initiated injunction proceedings to enforce review requirements for new tobacco products.
FDA Removes Racist Root From Tobacco Database Terminology
To better reflect product descriptions and enforce commitment to diversity and inclusion, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products updated its term “grandfathered tobacco product” to “pre-existing tobacco product” in August 2022.
Congressional Caucus Urges Biden-Harris Administration to Request Monkeypox Funding
As monkeypox continues to spread, the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus urged the Biden-Harris Administration in August 2022 to request funding from U.S. Congress to combat the virus.
CHIP Drastically Reduced Uninsured Children in the Past 25 Years
The Children’s Health Insurance Program helped drop the percentage of uninsured children from 15% to 3.7% since its authorization by Congress in 1997, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released in celebration of CHIP’s 25th anniversary in August 2022.
More Than a Shot in the Arm, Policymakers and Providers Must Support a Sustained Case for Vaccinations
One hundred twenty years ago, the U.S. Congress initiated the country’s first steps “to regulate the sale of virus, serum, toxin, and analogous products,” passing the 1902 Biologics Control Act to codify, oversee, and regulate a burgeoning field. By 1906, the legislation expanded to the Food and Drug Act, which formally established the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The PACT Act Improves Veterans’ Access to Cancer Care and Other Health Support
Veterans exposed to toxic substances in service will have more access to cancer care and other medical assistance thanks to the recently signed Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act. The PACT Act passed with bipartisan effort by Congress in August 2022 and later signed into law.
FDA Issues New Guidance to Help Facilitate Availability of Naloxone to Prevent Opioid Overdoses and Reduce Death
On September 22, 2022, to help achieve its priority of expanding the availability of overdose reversal products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the Exemption and Exclusion from Certain Requirements of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act for the Distribution of FDA-Approved Naloxone Products During the Opioid Public Health Emergency industry guidance.
HHS Issues Proposed Rule to Fight Discrimination in Health Care
By prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ July 2022 proposed rule strengthens Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, improving civil rights protections for patients in certain federally funded health programs.
The Role of Blind Justice in U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Health Care
For the past 244 years, the world has envied the Great American Experience. Civics 101 class equipped us with the U.S. checks and balances system’s elementary pillars:
- Government has three equal branches: executive (the president), legislative (the congress), and judiciary (the courts).
- When legislative laws are disputed, the judicial system interprets a law’s constitutionality.
Legislation and Cancer Care
Research and practice changes funded through healthcare legislation have influenced today’s care delivery across all settings: hospitals, clinics, and even homes. And with their constituents laser-focused on health in today’s pandemic society, legislators have never made that happen so quickly.