ONS President Talks Healthcare Policy Goals

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The newly appointed president of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) discussed healthcare policies that she and ONS will continue to advocate for in the cancer space.

The Oncology Nursing Society has a dedicated advocacy team that plans to address legislative issues including early access to palliative care and oral chemotherapy pricing, explained Jessica MacIntyre, DNP, MBA, APRN, NP-C, AOCNP.

MacIntyre is executive director of clinical operations at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami and will be the president of ONS from 2024 to 2026. In an interview with Oncology Nursing News at the 49th Annual ONS Congress® in Washington DC, she discussed some of the policies that she and her team hope to address.

“We just had advocacy day here during ONS Congress since we're in DC, and we had about 80 oncology nurses go to the Capitol Hill to talk to their representatives about some of the legislation that is important to us and our patients,” she said.

One piece of legislation that MacIntyre said ONS is advocating for is the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), which was reintroduced to Senate in the summer of 2023. The act focuses on investing in the training of health professionals in palliative care; bolstering education and awareness about the benefits of palliative care for patients and their families; and continuing research to expand and improve palliative care.

READ MORE: Opening the Conversation Around Palliative Care for Patients With Cancer

MacIntyre also mentioned ONS’ support of the Oral Drug Parity Act, which is another bipartisan bill that was reintroduced to Congress in 2023. This bill advocates for equal reimbursement for oral and intravenous anticancer drugs. An informational sheet by Senators Tina Smith and Jerry Moran explained, “While many IV treatments are covered under a health plan’s medical benefits—meaning moderate to minimal copays—oral medications are self-administered and covered under pharmacy benefits. Consequently, patients are required to pay a percentage of the medication’s overall cost, leaving patients responsible for paying high and often unaffordable copays.”

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