Episode 289: 2023 Health Policy Wrap-Up and Outlook for 2024

“Our top priorities really revolve around ensuring that everybody, regardless of their income, regardless of their gender, regardless of their race, regardless of where in the country they live, has access to the very best care for them and their family. And then ensuring that nurses have all of the education and training and support that they need to provide that care,” Jaimie Vickery, ONS’s director of government affairs and advocacy, told Jaime Weimer, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BS, AOCNS®, manager of oncology nursing practice at ONS, during a discussion about what the role of ONS’s lobbyist entails and what listeners should know about ONS’s 2023 advocacy work along with what’s ahead for 2024. 

You can earn free NCPD contact hours after listening to this episode and completing the evaluation linked below.  

Music Credit: “Fireflies and Stardust” by Kevin MacLeod 

Licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0 

Earn 0.5 contact hours of nursing continuing professional development (NCPD), which may be applied to the professional practice or performance ILNA categories, by listening to the full recording and completing an evaluation at myoutcomes.ons.org by December 8, 2025. The planners and faculty for this episode have no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies to disclose. ONS is accredited as a provider of NCPD by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. 

Learning outcome: The learner will report an increase in knowledge related to advocacy in oncology.  

Episode Notes 

To discuss the information in this episode with other oncology nurses, visit the ONS Communities.  

To find resources for creating an ONS Podcast Club in your chapter or nursing community, visit the ONS Podcast Library

To provide feedback or otherwise reach ONS about the podcast, email pubONSVoice@ons.org.  

Highlights From Today’s Episode 

“I wish there was a typical day for a government affairs person. A lot of it does depend on what is happening, obviously, with Congress. When Congress is in session, sometimes there are bills that are being worked on that I need to know about and know how they impact ONS and the work we do. So, it’s a lot of researching on legislative records. It’s a lot of meeting with people, both policymakers and other people and other organizations, to figure out: Is this a good bill? Is this a bad bill? What do we need to do about it? And then meeting with staffers to really educate them on the work that we’re doing, why this certain bill would be so important, why this certain bill would be so bad, and a lot of time working with coalition partners to strengthen numbers.” TS 2:34 

“So, Congress did something very new, very different. They have not done this. People are calling it a ‘laddered CR [continuing resolution],’ so that means there’s two parts to it. There are some federal agencies for which the funding will expire on January 17. The rest of those agencies will expire on February 2. The programs that we care about, nurse education programs, NIH (National Institutes of Health), the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention], all of those are in that second group. And staffers and members behind the scenes are already working to try and get to a compromise and trying to rewrite that legislation.” TS 8:09 

“Medicare will now cover primary illness navigation services, or ‘PIN’ services, and the American Medical Association has talked about having private insurers cover those as well. So, like your CIGNA, your Blue Cross, the insurance that probably most of us have. We also are really excited that Medicare will now cover the cost of compression garments that someone with lymphedema would need to control that swelling. Obviously, that’s a huge issue for a lot of breast cancer patients. And Medicare will now cover scalp cooling treatments for people on chemo, the chemo caps that help prevent hair loss, which of course is a huge quality-of-life issue for folks, and then deep flat procedures for people who do need breast reconstruction.” TS 9:36 

“There’s a former senator from Wyoming, Mike Enzi, and he would always say that ‘if you're not at the table, you’re on the menu.’ And I think about that a lot engaging in advocacy. And in it’s not always nefarious. It’s not a, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’re going to get them while they’re not here,’ sort of mentality. There’s just so many things to consider and there’s so many things that legislators and policymakers need to know. And there’s no possible way that they can know all these things unless somebody tells them.” TS 11:49 

“Members are the ones who are in the clinics every day, and they're the ones with these real experiences who have dealt with patients, who’ve dealt with families, who’ve helped people navigate their insurance coverage. And that's a really critically important voice that doesn't always get heard. So, it's time to, continuing this metaphor, pull your chair up to the table and speak up.” TS 12:20 

“The easiest thing to do is go to ONS.org and in the Health Policy and Advocacy Center, sign up for action alerts. That’s going to be the best way to find out about what’s going on. That’s going to be the best way to find out about when there is a bill being considered. I mentioned the PCHETA. There’s an action alert out now for that. A lot of those are really easy. You can do them sitting with your coffee in the breakroom. You can do them sitting in your car waiting to get your kids to soccer practice. You send in your information, it’ll send an email for you to your representatives about issues that we care about. It gives you the chance to personalize it. You don’t have to if you don't want to, but it does give you that opportunity. But that’s a great way to find out about everything that’s going on in a really easy. We know you all are busy. We know you all have a lot on your minds. We do this in a way that makes this easy and as simple as possible for you.” TS 13:58 

“Don’t feel like you have to be an expert on the policy side of it. That’s not your job. That’s my job. I’m not a nurse by background; I’m a policy person. So, that’s my job. Don’t feel like you need to worry about specific numbers or how much money this bill would set up or the bill number or the process or who’s the cosponsor on the bill. Just tell your story. And that is more invaluable than anything. Don’t worry about the process. Don’t worry about the sort of ‘DC political’ stuff. That’s my job. I will take care of all of that. Just really sharing your stories is what’s important.” TS 17:33 

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