Keep on Top of the Issues!

Make sure your voice is

Stay informed of issues that affect your practice and your patients -
Take action, and let Congress know how you feel about the issues!

As nursing professionals, it is so important that we stay on top of the issues and make our voices heard on behalf of our patients.  Legislators need our input to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people we take care of every day.  ONS strongly encourages legislative action - and our participation is what is needed!

ONS has a website that is centered on health policy advocacy.  You can keep up to date on these issues by visiting the Legislative Action Center at:  http://www.ons.org/lac/.  When navigating through the Legislative Action Center, you can learn what the health policy priorities are for oncology nurses, and find resources including tips for calling and writing to Congress.  There is also an online course entitled "Advocacy 101" that offers 1.5 hours of CME credit, and introduces you to the possibilities in being a strong advocate for oncology nursing and your patients.

We will be giving reminders of important healthcare policy issues at our monthly chapter meetings.  The legislators for the district of the Greater Charlotte Area Oncology Nursing Society are as follows:

Richard Burr (R)
Senator Burr participates in the Health and Education Committee.
Contact information:
The Honorable Richard Burr
United States Senate
217 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone:  (202) 244-3154
Fax:  (202) 228-2981

Kay Hagan (D)
Senator Hagan is newly elected to the US Senate in 2009.
Contact information:
Email:  Senator_Hagan@hagan.senate.gov
The Honorable Kay Hagan
United States Senate
B40A Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6342


Another great resource for healthcare policy is ONStat, the healthcare policy grassroots network.  ONStat is a great way to support ONS's activities in Washington, DC, where your society is continuously working to advance the ONS Health Policy Agenda at the national level.  ONS members who enroll in ONStat will be contacted when one of their elected officials is critical to a legislative issue that ONS wants to influence in some way. Background material on the issue will be provided to help in responding. Form letters are not used, but sample letters will be provided along with the legislator's contact information. The only criteria for selection is a willingness to respond when asked.

Join ONStat by going to their website:  http://www.ons.org/lac/onstat.shtml



The Affordable Care Act in 2012

Most of the focus will be on setting up state health benefit exchanges, the new state-based marketplaces where individuals without insurance and small businesses can compare and shop for affordable health insurance plans.  States have until January 1, 2013 to have their exchange plans approved by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Instead of setting up a state exchange, a state may also opt to have the federal government run the exchange. 
The American Cancer Society helps support a public website called Healthcare and You, where you can go to find the latest information:  Here is a their web link: http://www.healthcareandyou.org/timeline/    
Regarding specific changes, here is what was posted on the Healthcare and You website:

1) Accountable Care Organizations - Starting January 1, 2012
The law provides incentives for health care professionals to join together to form Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), where health care professionals and hospitals in a community work together to better coordinate and improve care, and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. If ACOs meet quality measures they can share in the cost savings they achieve in Medicare.

2) Independence at Home Program Demonstration - Starting January 1, 2012  
The Independence at Home program will provide some people with high medical needs in Medicare with primary care services in their homes.

3) Data Collection Aimed at Reducing Health Care Disparities - Starting March 23, 2012
The law helps identify and reduce health disparities by requiring any current or new federal health program to collect and report data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, disability status and underserved geographic populations. Health disparities are differences in quality of health and health care among different groups of people. Groups that are most often affected include women, children, elderly individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas.

4) Reducing Paperwork and Administrative Costs - Starting October 1, 2012
The law requires insurance plans to begin adopting rules for secure and confidential electronic sharing of patient information. Electronic health records will help reduce paperwork and administrative costs and help to improve the coordination of a patient’s care among different health care professionals.



Lynn Erdman, RN, MN, OCNS, FAAN


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