WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) reintroduced the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), a bipartisan bill to grow, improve and sustain the palliative and hospice care workforce to keep pace with patients’ needs and to help improve the well-being of Americans with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

“Having served as my grandmother’s primary caregiver as she grew older, this issue is near and dear to me, and I want to make a difference for families like mine experiencing serious health concerns,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud to work on this bipartisan bill that will grow and sustain our palliative and hospice care workforce and in turn, improve the quality of life for the growing number of patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses.”

“Access to high quality palliative and hospice care services is vital for patients and their families,” Senator Capito said. “As a caregiver for parents living with Alzheimer’s disease, I saw firsthand just how valuable these services are. In order to preserve access to this care, our bill would strengthen training and education opportunities for individuals working in these fields. I look forward to working with Senator Baldwin and my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation.”

Palliative and hospice care focus on relieving patients’ suffering from serious illnesses and working to improve their quality of life. The work is done through an interprofessional team of doctors, nurses, social workers, physician assistants, and other specialists focusing on the patients’ needs and ensuring families a voice in achieving their treatment goals. Medical research shows that palliative and hospice care have been associated with enhanced quality of life for patients, reduced hospital expenditures and lengths of stay, and longer patient survival time.

As palliative care needs increased, the number of professionals and providers needed to fulfill patient needs has not kept pace. Senators Baldwin and Capito’s PCHETA will help build a health care workforce more closely aligned with the nation’s evolving health care needs and improve care and quality of life for millions of Americans facing serious illness by focusing on three key areas:

  1. Workforce Training: Ensure we have education centers, curricula, and teachers to expand interdisciplinary training in palliative and hospice care and establish programs to attract and retain providers.
  2. Education and Awareness: Share resources and information to ensure that patients, families and health professionals are informed about the benefits of palliative care and the services that are available to support patients with serious or life-threatening illness.
  3. Enhanced Research: Direct NIH to use existing authorities and funds to expand palliative care research to advance clinical practice and improve care delivery for patients with serious or life-threatening illness.

The bipartisan legislation is also supported by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

PCHETA is supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Hospice Action Network, Children’s Wisconsin, among others. A letter in support of PCHETA from more than 50 organizations can be found here and additional quotes of support is available here.

“For children with chronic conditions or life-threatening illnesses, palliative care and hospice services can support them and their families and help to alleviate suffering, and yet far too many families cannot access these benefits,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP. “We must do more to ensure that this care is a key component of a holistic approach to serious and life-threatening illness. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act would address this need and bring more awareness to the importance of palliative care. We thank Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) for their dedication to this issue and look forward to the bill’s advancement,”

“With COVID-19 highlighting the critical shortage of health professionals with knowledge and skills in palliative care, AAHPM applauds Senators Baldwin and Capito for their leadership in introducing the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act to ensure all patients facing serious illness or at the end of life can receive high-quality care,” said Tara C. Friedman, MD FAAHPM, President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. “We urge Congress to recognize the importance of a well-trained, interprofessional healthcare team to providing coordinated, person-centered serious illness care and to act now to build a healthcare workforce more closely aligned with America’s evolving healthcare needs – including future pandemics. Advancing PCHETA will go a long way towards improving quality of care and quality of life for our nation’s sickest and most vulnerable patients, along with their families and caregivers.”

“We are grateful for Senator Baldwin’s leadership in introducing the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act,” said Ginger Marshall, MSN, ACNP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, Chief Executive Officer, Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association. “It is a significant achievement and recognizes the dire need to strengthen the palliative workforce by providing robust education and training for nurses.”

“The National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care applaud Senators Baldwin and Capito for their steadfast leadership and advocacy upon the introduction of the Palliative Care Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA). This legislation represents bi-partisan solutions to improve the equitable access and quality of palliative care for all patients and caregivers with serious illness. We know the American public strongly support this,” said Executive Director of the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care, Amy Melnick. “Senators Baldwin and Capito recognize that the devastation of COVID-19 has taught us that now, more than ever, patients and families deserve these necessary services that improve quality of life and reduces the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. This legislation will help train this essential inter-disciplinary workforce, help raise awareness about the benefits of palliative care and encourage more palliative care research.”

“Palliative and hospice care provide comfort and relief to people with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses; these supportive services, however, are not widely available,” said Robert Kellerman, Chair of the Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network. “We strongly support the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), which will help grow and improve the palliative and hospice care workforce, and promote efforts to inform patients, families and providers about the benefits of this essential end-of-life care and the resources and materials available to support them.”

A one pager on the bill is available here.

Full text of the legislation is available here.

An online version of this release is available here.

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