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.
ONS Board Releases Statement About Dobbs v. Jackson
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson, reversing the decision from the 1973 case, Roe v. Wade. Many nursing, medical, and health organizations issued statements in reaction, and opinions among ONS stakeholders and constituents will differ on the decision. As it leads an organization that represents oncology nurses and advocates for patient-centered care, the ONS Board of Directors reviews social and political issues through the lens of the Society’s mission. With that perspective, the ONS Board believes that two statements from other organizations are important for members to know.
COVID-19’s Impact on Nurses Jeopardizes Quality Care
Creating a pathway for policymakers, providers, and the public to understand and recommend a new professional nursing dynamic, the Institute of Medicine’s 2011 Future of Nursing report investigated the current and future state and challenges of the nursing profession.
Decree Houses ARPA-H Under NIH Oversight
Since President Joe Biden announced the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) in October 2021, the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health (NIH) shared responsibility for implementing its goals to improve the U.S. government’s ability to speed biomedical and health research. In April 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially placed the agency under NIH.
Health and Equity Matter for Black Mothers, HHS Says
Amid its celebration of Black Maternal Health Week in April 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) raised awareness of a sobering fact: Black maternal mortality and morbidity are a healthcare crisis throughout the United States.
$560 Million in Relief Payments Distributed to Institutions Affected by COVID-19
More than $560 million in provider relief fund (PRF) phase four distribution payments reached more than 4,100 healthcare institutions across the United States in February 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funding will be used to help healthcare institutions prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including maintaining operations at facilities and recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals during the workforce shortage.
Latest Federal Legislation Invests in Nursing Workforce Development
Driven by evidence-based practice and patient-centered care, nurses have earned the faith of the American public. For two decades, nurses have been ranked the most trusted and ethical profession in the United States. Although trust is critical, what it lacks is support for the profession through federal investment in research, education, and workforce issues for long-term stability.
New HHS Initiative Will Reduce Maternal and Infant Health Disparities
To reduce the disparities affecting maternity health outcomes, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) launched the Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Data and Analysis Initiative, an $8 million contract with Premier, Inc., the agency announced in December 2021. The initiative is rallying a network of hospitals to deploy evidence-based best practices in maternity care.
Local Policies Have Reduced Availability, Use of Flavored Tobacco Products
Local policies have reduced the availability and youth and adult use of products like flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes compared to areas without restrictions, the Truth Initiative reported after the first comprehensive quality review that looked at the outcomes of flavor and menthol tobacco restrictions. The research, which was conducted in partnership with the Research Triangle Institute, was published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
Biden-Harris Administration Provides Nearly $1 Billion to Modernize Health Centers, Support Underserved Communities
An investment of nearly $1 billion will help modernize 1,292 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) health center program-funded health centers across the United States, according to an October 2021 announcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funding will be used to support major healthcare construction and renovation projects and strengthen the country’s healthcare infrastructure.
HHS Secretary Becerra Announces New Overdose Prevention Strategy
Preventing overdoses—from any substance, but particularly opioids—is an urgent need during the U.S. opioid epidemic that involves a four-step process: prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announcedHHS released a new overdose prevention strategy in October 2021 to increase access to services for patients and their families who use substances that can put them at risk for overdose.
CMS Launches Strategy to Drive Health System Transformation
Under a newly refreshed strategy, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Innovation Center is expanding models in the healthcare industry that reduce program costs and improving quality and outcomes for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, the agency announced in an October 2021 white paper.
U.S. Supreme Court Upholds ACA Again
After a decade and three legal challenges that culminated in another U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ([ACA], commonly known as Obamacare) is currently established canon. On June 17, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in favor of the defendants in the case of California et al. v. Texas et al., maintaining ACA’s constitutionality. It was a firm 7-2 decision.
CMS Innovation Center Uses Past Achievements to Build Future Goals
Innovative, affordable, and accountable care are the key to transforming the healthcare system to achieve health equity, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center’s 10-year plan, which the center announced on August 12, 2021.
6.8 Million Individuals Enroll in CHIP Prior to Program’s 24th Anniversary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra celebrated the Children’s Health Insurance Program’s (CHIP’s) 24th anniversary on August 4, 2021, a program that “for more than two decades, has been a lifeline for millions of children and families across America,” with an incredible announcement: in 2020 and 2021, CHIP provided more than 6.8 million enrolled individuals with coverage during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Biden-Harris Administration’s FY 2022 Discretionary Funding Request Includes Proposals to Advance Public Health
In its first year, new presidential administrations release a skinny budget that contains more topline items rather than deep dives into each agency and subdivision. Following suit, in April 2021 the Biden-Harris administration released its request for discretionary funding with limited definition, but it was enough to foreshadow the fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding cycle.
U.S. Surgeon General Issues Report on Dangers of Health Misinformation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In today’s digital age of news, the public often struggles to decipher real science from misleading or incorrect information—and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has only magnified the situation. Seeing a detrimental impact to the health of the nation, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, issued his first advisory report of the Biden administration on the topic of misinformation in public health.
HHS Launches Network of Leaders and Organizations to Encourage COVID-19 Vaccinations
As of July 2021, more than 159 million individuals in the United States have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus, totaling about 48.1% of the U.S. population. However, approximately 173 million others have not, or suggested they will not, receive the vaccination. President Biden’s goal of having 70% of Americans receive at least one vaccine dose and 160 million adults to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4, 2021, fell short.
National Cancer Act Turns 50
Fifty years ago, President Richard Nixon delivered his third State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress, boldly outlining audacious goals with major federal funding attached. Seeking $100 million for what he deemed “the war on cancer,” Nixon pledged his commitment to invest federal resources in the fight against cancer.
CMS Extends Enrollment Period Access for Marketplace Coverage
Those without healthcare coverage can now purchase annual policies through state exchanges until August 15, 2021, under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS’s) extended Special Enrollment Period (SEP), ensuring continued access to affordable coverage for Americans during a time of healthcare uncertainty.
As Usage Increases, U.S. Senators Reintroduce Telehealth Access Bill
In a bipartisan effort that recognizes patients' concerns about telehealth’s accessibility, the U.S. Senate promoted legislation to reduce barriers to care. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), along with 50 colleagues, introduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021. The bill would “expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to safely connect with their doctors.”
Challenging Times Require Bold Policy Actions
On April 28, 2021, in his first congressional address to the U.S. Congress, President Joe Biden proposed another major piece of legislation to put the country back on a path to enhance public health and promote economic growth. It was the latest in a series of bills from the new administration that have implications for oncology nurses and patients with cancer.
Research Between Structural Racism and Health Disparities Calls for Changes in Healthcare Delivery
Structural racism is repeatedly linked to health disparities, but a new agency report outlines plans to address discrimination and improve patient outcomes. In a special 2021 supplement to the journal Ethnicity and Disease, “Structural Racism and Discrimination: Impact on Minority Health and Health Disparities,” the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities published a series of reports exploring the relationships between policies, practices, and health. It also included recommended solutions, including outcomes from interventions in a school district and a local health department and future research directions (e.g., examining ways racism embedded in online systems can contribute to health disparities).
U.S. Rep. Underwood Pushes for Increased Access to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
In May 2021, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood, RN (D-IL), introduced the Primary and Behavioral Health Care Access Act that, if passed, would require private health insurance plans to cover three primary care visits and three behavioral health or substance abuse disorder visits per year without cost sharing. Underwood’s goal was to promote legislation that would make health care more accessible and affordable.
The Future of Nursing Charts a Path to Achieve Health Equity
Society in 2021 has been challenged by an economic crisis and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Today, nurses must have an arsenal of tools and knowledge—and the ability to adapt in unpredictable circumstances—to assist patients seeking health care.
Oncology Nurses Are Making a Difference in Policy and Advocacy
A shining light to guide a burgeoning field—often referred to as “the lady with the lamp”—Florence Nightingale was a revolutionary figure in nursing, transforming care by simple but radical actions. Through scientific research she showed that sanitation and healthy diets improved patient outcomes, and through advocacy she fought for access to those conditions for all of her patients. She modeled the way for nurse advocates throughout history and into today.
New HHS Secretary Becerra Says Increased Access and Reduced Disparities Are Agency Priorities
On March 22, 2021, Xavier Becerra, BA, JD, became the first Latino appointed as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and announced the agency’s focus on ensuring affordable and accessible health care for every American.
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program Receives $200 Million Funding Increase
With the aging population of clinicians and patients, nursing is in desperate need of a stronger workforce. To advance nurses at all levels of practice, on February 9, 2021, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced its plan to increase funding for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program by $200 million through its section of the American Rescue Plan.
Executive Orders Put a Stamp on Administration’s Policy Priorities
Although not expressly written as part of the U.S. Constitution, from the earliest days of the republic, strong presidents have issued proclamations, instructions, and statements that eventually evolved into executive orders carrying the weight of the federal government on new directives meant to change policy. George Washington issued his first presidential edicts to have his Cabinet report on departmental activities.
Nurse Appointed as Acting U.S. Surgeon General
Three nurses serve in the U.S. Congress, and the profession briefly added one more federal representation at the agency level as well. President Joe Biden appointed Rear Admiral Susan Orsega, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, a nurse practitioner, as acting surgeon general while Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBH, who served as former president Barack Obama’s surgeon general, was waiting for Senate confirmation. The position is often referred to as the “nation’s doctor,” although Orsega was the third nurse to hold the title before Murthy assumed his current post.
Biden Establishes Gender Council to Advance Equity and Equality for Women
Although society has tried to take steps to confront gender disparities, women remain underrepresented across various sectors. Title IX in 1972 granted every American student the right to education without gender discrimination. However, female students still bear the brunt of sex-segregated programs and gender-based violence, two major obstacles to educational equality. Women consistently earn less than their male counterparts. The wage gap is larger for most women of color, and gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace perpetuate economic divides. More women work today than ever before, but they face barriers to leadership roles, such as stereotypes about their performance abilities, uneven demands of motherhood compared to male partners, and the reality that many workplaces prefer and reward masculine leadership styles. Health needs are substantially greater for older women compared to older men, but women reported fewer visits with a physician and lesser likelihood to stay in a hospital.
How Public Health Can Stop the Pandemic (Hint: It’s COVID-19 Vaccination)
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it. The mortality rate is devasting, the economic impact is jarring, and no one can pinpoint any date for its end. But new vaccines offer a glimmer of hope—but only if the country can settle discussions about achieving adequate vaccination coverage and strategies to distribute and inoculate hundreds of millions of people.
U.S. Reps Introduce Bill to Support Frontline Workers and Families
More nurses are diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus than healthcare providers in any other discipline. Despite that sober statistic, very few congressional committees’ COVID-19 legislation proposals support essential workers like nurses. U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced a bill to address those concerns.