Photo: Senator Jacky Rosen (at center) launches the Comprehensive Care Caucus in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On July 31, 2019, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and the Special Committee on Aging, launched the bipartisan Comprehensive Care Caucus, with co-chairs Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Deb Fischer (R-NE). Palliative care is specialized medical care focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. The purpose of the Comprehensive Care Caucus is to raise the public’s awareness and promote the availability and benefits of palliative care, while also finding bipartisan solutions to expand access to palliative care services, improve coordinated care, and address issues impacting caregivers. The Caucus will work to enhance access to palliative care services and improve the quality of life of millions of Americans managing serious illnesses. Groups participating in the panel included the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC), American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network/ Patient Quality of Life Coalition, and Nathan Adelson Hospice.
“As someone who stepped back from my career to take care of my parents and in-laws as they got older and started having serious health problems, I understand just how important it is for working families to have access to the medically advantageous and cost-saving benefits of palliative care,” said Senator Rosen. “About one in eight people are living with a serious illness, and many of those patients lack access to comprehensive treatment that includes palliative care. We know that millions of Americans could benefit from access to palliative care, and by launching today’s bipartisan caucus, we will be able to give this very real issue the attention that it deserves.”
“For more than two decades, I had the privilege of practicing medicine in Wyoming.” said Senator Barrasso. “Helping patients and their families face difficult health care situations made me appreciate the importance of palliative care. This why I’m proud to help lead the Comprehensive Care Caucus to improve the quality of life for patients and their dedicated caregivers.”
“I was raised by my maternal grandparents and later served as my grandmother’s primary caregiver as she grew older, so this issue is personal to me, and I want to make a difference for families experiencing serious health concerns,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud to join the bipartisan Comprehensive Care Caucus so we can do more to improve the quality of care for the growing number of patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses, enhance care coordination and support our nation’s caregivers.”
“Witnessing our loved ones face serious illnesses is heartbreaking and stressful,” said Senator Fischer. “Through the Senate’s bipartisan Comprehensive Care Caucus, I’m optimistic we can draw attention to the importance of palliative care for patients, families, friends, and caregivers. Doing so will improve the lives of people in Nebraska and across America by making sure they can choose the best care plan possible.”
BACKGROUND: According to the National Institute on Aging, palliative care “can be helpful at any stage of illness and is best provided from the point of diagnosis.” Palliative care works well alongside curative treatment for a range of conditions and helps complete the circle of meeting a patient’s needs as a whole. Reduced discomfort and disability, better care coordination, and improved outcomes are all positive aspects of integrating palliative care.
In June, Rosen introduced the bipartisan Provider Training in Palliative Care Act (S.1921) with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). This legislation would update the National Health Service Corps program to include palliative care medicine as an eligible primary care service. Rosen recently toured Nathan Adelson Hospice to learn about services offered to patients and families as part of its comprehensive palliative care program.