NHPCO Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Access to Palliative Care

Categories: Policy.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is proud to support the Provider Training in Palliative Care Act (S.1921), a bipartisan bill that was introduced in the Senate by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on June 20, 2019. The goal of the bill is to include palliative care medicine as an eligible primary care service through the National Health Services Corp.

In a 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, patients that received palliative care early after a serious illness diagnosis had a better quality of life, experienced less frequent depression, and lived longer than their counterparts who did not receive palliative care. Palliative care focuses on the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness and unlike hospice care, allows patients to receive curative treatment.  As the population of the United States continues to age, the need for both hospice and palliative care will increase.

“Countless patients facing serious illness or injury can benefit from the practice of palliative care,” said Senator Rosen. “Palliative care is an option that does not get the attention it deserves and is proven to improve outcomes as well as reduce the cost of treatment. This bipartisan legislation will help strengthen the skills of our medical workforce in Nevada and across the country to better meet the needs of patients and families in need, especially those in rural and underserved areas.”

“When a patient receives a serious medical diagnosis, the list of symptoms and side effects from the illness and its treatments can be extensive. For those patients, palliative care plays a significant role in minimizing pain and discomfort and maximizing quality of life,” said Senator Murkowski. “By officially recognizing palliative care as a subspecialty of public health services, we’re opening the door for those working in the industry to access the training they need to give their patients the quality care they deserve.  For a state like Alaska, which faces a shortage of palliative care physicians against a rapidly growing aging population, this change in terminology is important.”

The Provider Training in Palliative Care Act calls for palliative care training opportunities through the National Health Services Corp – a program with the goal to grow the primary care workforce by awarding scholarships and loan repayment opportunities.   As the need for palliative care services increases, more providers will be needed to deliver this specialized type of care.

“NHPCO has long supported increasing the number of palliative and hospice care professionals to ensure that all Americans are able to access person-centered and integrated care,” noted NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “Unless efforts are made to expand our palliative care workforce, services for individuals facing serious, advanced or life-limiting illness may become limited. We’re calling on all Congressional leaders to rise to meet this challenge and support this important legislation.”

NHPCO and the Hospice Action Network will continue to monitor the progress of this bill and will be calling on hospice and palliative care advocates from across to the country, to reach out to the Members of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation. To stay up-to-date with the latest in hospice and palliative care legislative news, visit the Hospice Action Network’s Legislative Action Center.

####