On July 19, almost 250 hospice advocates – physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides and volunteers – will converge on Capitol Hill to call on Congress to support the Personalize Your Care Act of 2016, the Rural Access to Hospice Act, and the Care Planning Act. The group is in Washington, D.C. to attend the Hospice Action Network and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s annual Advocacy Intensive.
This year’s event theme is “Advocacy in Your Backyard.” During the two-day event, attendees learn best practices for advocating for hospice and how to connect directly with their members of Congress on Capitol Hill and back in their home districts.
Congressional meetings with over 300 offices are scheduled.
“Since the inaugural HAN Advocacy Intensive in 2012, more than 1,000 hospice advocates have shared their caregiving stories on Capitol Hill,” says NHPCO President and CEO J. Donald Schumacher. “Our advocates make quite an impact on Members of Congress and leave Washington with tools and resources to advocate for hospice in their own community.”
The advocates will provide information about three specific policy issues that could impact the hospice community.
- Personalize Your Care Act of 2016 [HR 5555], sponsored by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Phil Roe (R-TN), authorizes an Advanced Illness Management and Choices Demonstration, which allows individuals with chronic and advanced illness to receive both conventional, curative treatments along with hospice and palliative care services. The legislation also provides additional resources to educate consumers and providers about advance care planning, and requires that advance directives be included within a patient’s electronic health record in order to increase the likelihood that the documents are kept up-to-date and easy to locate.
- Rural Access to Hospice Act [S 2786], sponsored by Senators Capito (R-WV) and Shaheen (D-NH) in the Senate and to be introduced this week by Congresswomen Jenkins (R-KS) and Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) in the House, will address statutory barriers that restrict some patients’ primary care physician from becoming their attending physician during hospice care.
- Care Planning Act [S 1549], sponsored by Senators Warner (D-VA) and Isakson (R-GA) creates a new Medicare benefit for care planning services offered by a hospice-like interdisciplinary team. Research indicates that team-based care planning results in more comprehensive, individualized plans and that individuals who receive counseling are less likely to receive invasive treatments at the end-of-life. The legislation also authorizes a demonstration to offer concurrent hospice and palliative care for individuals with multiple, complex chronic disease and two or more limitations in activities of daily living.
In addition to the work hospice advocates will be doing on Capitol Hill, advocates and hospice supporters across the country are participating virtually by contacting their elected officials in an outreach effort coordinated by HAN’s Virtual Hill Day.
More than 1.6 million patients, along with their family caregivers, receive care from our nation’s hospices every year, reports NHPCO.
For more information on Hospice Action Network and advocacy efforts, visit: www.hospiceactionnetwork.org.