The Bi-Partisan Palliative Care and Hospice Education Act: Good for All; All for Good

For years, published research has illustrated why palliative care is sound medicine and the best care available for patients and families coping with serious, life-threatening illness. As well, it’s understood among insurance providers, clinicians and the business community that palliative care also reduces healthcare expenditures and improves the patient’s quality of life. *Hyperlink: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2678833
So, what’s the issue? The United States simply does not have enough well-trained palliative care clinicians to meet the need.
According to Dr. Stephen R. Connor, Executive Director of the World Palliative Care Alliance, “The United States, like the vast majority of countries, has not prioritized palliative care training and development, even though over 60 million people annually need this service, including three million in the US alone.”

“By passing the bipartisan Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, Congress can help to prepare the healthcare workforce of tomorrow to respond to the needs of our aging population, which will make it possible for the chronically ill suffering from serious health related issues to live and die in peace and dignity,” he added.

The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act will basically support the re-training of faculty to provide instruction in palliative care. It will also establish traineeships for those preparing for advanced education nursing degrees, social work degrees, or advanced degrees in physician assistant studies, with a focus in palliative care in long-term care facilities, home care, hospices, chronic and acute disease hospitals and ambulatory care centers.

It will also support continuing education of health professionals who provide palliative care to patients with serious or life-threatening illness. As well, the Act will encourage the development and dissemination of curricula relating to the palliative treatment of complex health problems of individuals with serious or life-threatening illnesses.

Important to note too, is that the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) will have a public education component because patients and families, too, must become more engaged in their own healthcare outcomes.

It’s clear: unless this bill is passed, it’s anticipated there will be only one palliative care physician for every 26,000 seriously ill patients by the year 2030 – which would deeply impact access to the best care possible for those facing life-threatening illness. Congress has the power right now to positively impact their constituents who need and deserve palliative care.

In closing, Connor adds, “Public awareness and professional education in palliative care have to happen simultaneously. If you train physicians and keep the public in the dark, you fail. If you enlighten the public but fail to train health professionals nothing happens. Public demand and professional competence need to occur hand-in-hand.”

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