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Advocates to Congress: It’s time to pass palliative care legislation

Patient Quality of Life Coalition uses annual lobby day to push for passage of Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act

Advocates and volunteers from the Patient Quality of Life Coalition (PQLC) will be on Capitol Hill today to share their stories with lawmakers as part of the coalition’s sixth annual lobby day. 

The PQLC includes more than 40 organizations that collectively work to advance the interests of patients facing serious illness by supporting policies that improve and expand access to high-quality palliative care services. Palliative care provides patients with serious or chronic illnesses an additional layer of coordinated support through a team of specialized professionals, ultimately giving them more control in managing their disease and symptoms and leading to better health outcomes.

More than 80 PQLC volunteers from 23 states and the District of Columbia will meet with their member of Congress today and ask for their support of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), bipartisan legislation that would expand and intensify federal research for palliative care services, including symptom and pain management, and would establish palliative care education and training programs for doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. It would also create a national public education and awareness campaign to educate patients and providers about the availability and benefits of palliative care.

PCHETA unanimously passed in the House of Representatives in the 115th Congress (January 3, 2017 to January 3, 2019) and currently has broad bipartisan support, with more than 220 House co-sponsors.

“As a result of the coordinated work of the PQLC and our volunteers over the last six years, Congress is increasingly recognizing the beneficial role palliative care services can play for patients living with serious illnesses like cancer,” said Keysha Brooks-Coley, vice president of federal advocacy for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and chair of the PQLC. “Through PCHETA, we look at pain and symptom management through a holistic lens that will not only improve patients’ quality of life but will also build a robust workforce dedicated to providing comprehensive care from the moment of diagnosis. It’s time lawmakers take another step forward by passing PCHETA through both chambers of Congress to give patients and families access to more coordinated care that will improve future health outcomes.”

“The PQLC’s annual lobby day brings together key stakeholders working to advance PCHETA and help ensure access to high-quality palliative and hospice care for the expanding and diverse population of patients with serious illness or multiple chronic conditions, as well as their families and caregivers,” said American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) president Joanne Wolfe, MD MPH FAAHPM.  “We commend the bipartisan congressional champions who have led the effort to develop a well-trained, sustainable hospice and palliative care workforce and will continue to work toward passage of this critically important legislation.” 

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