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Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Passes Engel Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act

Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Passes Engel Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee unanimously approved H.R. 1676, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), legislation authored by Congressman Eliot L. Engel.

Palliative care focuses on alleviating suffering for patients and their loved ones, accompanying efforts to treat or cure illness. It involves communication with patients and their families to coordinate care, determine patient preferences, and assist with medical decision-making. This extra layer of support is appropriate for patients with serious illnesses starting at the point of diagnosis, through treatment, and onward through hospice and the end of life.

Palliative care can help patients and families cope with the symptoms, stress and pain of illness, but many aren’t aware of these benefits. In addition, there is a shortage of educated providers who can offer quality palliative care. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act addresses these issues by expanding opportunities for training in palliative and hospice care. The bill also seeks to better educate patients, families and health professionals about palliative care’s benefits and encourages the National Institutes of Health to expand research around this topic.

H.R. 1676 was co-authored by Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23) and Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (GA-01). It is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and other organizations representing patients, providers, and health systems. The bill has also been cosponsored by 281 bipartisan Members of Congress.

“Most of us, sadly, have known a loved one who has faced a serious or life-threatening illness, and we know too well the confusion and stress those situations bring,” Engel said. “This bill will help us ensure there is a well-trained palliative and hospice care workforce available to care for patients and bring needed relief to families.”

“I care about ensuring there is a trained workforce capable of meeting the demands for new models of healthcare delivery, and I am happy to see this legislation gain traction,” Reed said. “Hospice and palliative care provide significant health cost savings while improving the quality of life for the seriously ill.”

“As a pharmacist for more than 30 years, I served as a pharmacy consultant for hospice care,” said Carter. “I saw firsthand the important impact that proper palliative care can have on patients and families going through incredibly difficult end of life decisions. This legislation ensures that there is a well-trained palliative care workforce available and ready for those individuals with serious illnesses and I am very glad this legislation was approved by our subcommittee today.”

“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,” said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) president Chris Hansen. “Today’s markup of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act is an important step forward in advancing access to palliative care services and we commend Representatives Engel, Reed and Carter for their steadfast commitment to this cause.  Expanding access to supportive care that treats the whole patient, not just their disease, is crucial for cancer patients, survivors and their families.”

“Today's action by the subcommittee is an important step to ensure the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer's have access to quality care and end of life services, making a devastating disease slightly more manageable. On behalf of the Alzheimer's Association, AIM, and our network of advocates we thank Reps. Engel, Reed and Carter for their leadership working to introduce and grow support for PCHETA in the House," said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association Chief Public Policy Officer and Alzheimer's Impact Movement (AIM) Executive Director

“A just, effective and efficient system of health care requires palliative care as a key component. We commend Representatives Engel, Reed and Carter for their longtime leadership to develop an adequate, well-trained, sustainable hospice and palliative care workforce,”said American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) president Tammie E. Quest, MD FAAHPM.  “PCHETA will help to ensure access to consistent, 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.”