Chris Hansen, ACS CAN President

A Blog From the ACS CAN President

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Palliative Care Legislation Reintroduced in New Congress

March 31, 2017

For millions of cancer patients and their families, palliative care can play an essential role in improving their quality of life throughout treatment and survivorship. Yet, many Americans remain unaware about palliative care and how it can help. The "Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act” (PCHETA) aims to change that by better focusing on care coordination and relief from pain, stress and other symptoms of the disease and treatment. 

I’m happy to share that the PCHETA legislation (H.R. 1676 and S. 693) was reintroduced last week by Representatives Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.).

For the past five years, ACS CAN has led the charge to raise awareness and educate lawmakers and the public about the critical need for cancer patients and survivors to have access to supportive care that treats the whole patient, not just their disease. That’s where palliative care can help. 

Research shows that patients with serious illness who receive palliative care have fewer trips to emergency rooms, spend less time in the hospital, have fewer hospital readmissions, and generally experience a better quality of life during treatment. While most large hospitals have palliative care or supportive care teams on staff, patients often don’t know to ask about these available support services during their treatment. 

The PCHETA legislation would expand federal research focused on palliative care and symptom management and improve palliative care training for nurses, doctors, social workers, and other health care professionals. It would also establish a national palliative care public awareness campaign to educate patients and providers about the availability and benefits of palliative care. 
 
Palliative care can transform the way health care providers treat cancer patients and others with serious illnesses by improving their quality of care, while also saving health care dollars. That’s the message ACS CAN staff and volunteers, along with the Patient Quality of Life Coalition, an alliance of more than 50 organizations, will continue to share with Members of Congress as we work toward passage of this legislation.

Last Congress, PCHETA ended the session with the bipartisan support of 234 House cosponsors and 20 Senate cosponsors, and received a hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. I am confident that in the coming weeks and months we’ll again build strong bipartisan support for this critical legislation and make meaningful changes to the way many patients with serious illness such as cancer receive treatment and care. 

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