Cancer Moonshot, COVID-19, and Beyond
The Biden-Harris Administration and the 117th Congress present APHON new and distinct opportunities to advocate for the field of pediatric hematology/oncology nursing. We have an opportunity to protect and expand access to health care and research funding and to advance pediatric hematology/oncology, particularly through the Cancer Moonshot, an initiative launched by then-Vice President Biden under President Obama. President Biden is expected to expand upon the Cancer Moonshot’s three ambitious goals: to accelerate scientific discovery in cancer, foster greater collaboration, and improve the sharing of data.
APHON has actively engaged in this advocacy, signing on to letters and participating in various efforts to reach out to the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress on issues of central concern. Notably, APHON signed on to the Nursing Community Coalition’s letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies outlining the funding requests of $530 million for Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs and $193 million for the National Institute of Nursing Research for FY 2022. APHON also joined the Nursing Community Coalition in letters welcoming the Biden-Harris Administration and reiterating to Congress vital priorities related to nurses’ involvement in meeting the challenges of COVID-19 and future threats to public health.
Among those priorities is passing the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing (FAAN) Act, which includes support for additional nursing education infrastructure. APHON endorsed the FAAN Act in 2020 and endorsed it again when it was reintroduced in the House in 2021 by Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), nurses and key APHON advocates. The act would invest $1 billion to support nursing education during public health challenges and then beyond to address workforce shortages. Infrastructure would be modernized and research enhanced at schools of nursing across the United States. Passing this act would yield benefits well beyond the current pandemic and help expand and strengthen the nursing workforce.
APHON has joined the American Society of Hematology and other Sickle Cell Disease Coalition organizations in signing on to a letter to Congress requesting funding for federal sickle cell disease (SCD) programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The CDC estimated in FY 2020 that $25 million is needed to fully implement its data collection program; the letter includes this language and requests at least $5 million in FY 2022 to continue to phase in the Sickle Cell Data Collection Program in the currently participating states and allow expansion to additional states. The letter also calls for funding to be maintained in FY 2022 for the HRSA’s SCD Treatment Demonstration Program and SCD Newborn Screening Program.
CDC’s Sickle Cell Data Collection Program Expands from 9 to 11 States
The Sickle Cell Data Collection Program at the CDC expanded from 9 to 11 states in March 2021. The program data, along with a one-page sheet giving information on SCD health disparities, are available on the CDC’s website.
APHON signed on to the Alliance for Childhood Cancer’s letter supporting the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act. A bipartisan group of lawmakers—led by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and including cosponsors Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)—supports the legislation. The act provides $25 billion in needed relief to support independent research institutions, public laboratories, and universities across the country and gives them the regulatory flexibility needed to continue their work. This funding will help address major disruptions to research, including pediatric cancer research, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
APHON signed on to a letter that supports funding to help generate pediatric reference intervals, which are values that assist clinicians in interpreting their patients’ laboratory test results. These are generated from existing clinical samples. More than 30 organizations, including the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, signed the letter; the effort was led by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. The requested funding would help efforts to create more standard reference intervals and make possible more accurate diagnoses for pediatric patients. The CDC supports this initiative and has a plan is place, but it projects that an additional $10 million is needed to begin and advance this vital work. The letter, sent to House and Senate appropriations subcommittees in February, requests funding for FY 2022.