Wednesday, September 7, 2016

One Step Closer: Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA)


by Paul Tatum (@doctatum)

This Labor Day weekend it is time to feel grateful for the politicians in Washington DC who are working together to improve health care.   The entire palliative care community should send a giant note of thank you to the members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.  The Subcommittee on Health has scheduled the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), House bill H.R. 3119, for a legislative hearing on Thursday, September 8, 2016 as part of a hearing entitled “Examining Legislation to Improve Public Health.”

PCHETA is a bipartisan bill which has broad support from both patient and provider organizations.  Forty-four separate organizations signed a letter from the Patient Quality of Life Coalition requesting a hearing for PCHETA. While PCHETA by now is well-known to regular readers of Geripal, the bill has had some improvements added from prior years.  If you don’t read the complete bill in the link above (the Senate companion bill is Senate bill S. 2748,) you can read more in detail about the bill here in the AAHPM summary (and please do read the summary if you have not). In short, the House Bill H.R. 3119 has three components:

  1. Education - expanded opportunities for interdisciplinary education in palliative care,  
  2. Awareness - an awareness campaign to inform patients and health care providers about the available services and benefits of palliative care, and 
  3. Research - strategic planning within the National Institute of Health (NIH) to expand palliative care research.


PCHETA fits the focus of this hearing, “Examining Legislation to Improve Public Health,” very well.  PCHETA really does improve public health because palliative care is really about caring for those with serious illness and their caregivers in ways that improve quality beyond what the traditional medical system has offered.

So a big thanks to the Health Subcommittee for bringing PCHETA into this hearing.   I hope that this will lead to advancing the bill to the full committee level and eventually to full consideration in the House. This is a good bill that improves public health and patient care.

And thanks to the palliative medicine community (including AAHPM, CAPC, HPNA, NHCPO, SWPN, and YOU)  for coming together from various professional disciplines to advocate for the cause of patients with serious illness in partnership with groups like American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Geriatrics Society and so many other groups to better the care of our sickest patients.  We do this for the health of society.

And if you just happen to live in a district with a House member on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health (check here), why don’t you give their office a call (or Facebook message or tweet—use #SubHealth) and continue to ask them to support PCHETA.  Also, if your district’s member is already one of PCHETAs cosponsors (check here), reach out and send a big thanks for their ongoing support!

If you’re not sure who your legislators are, visit AAHPM’s Legislative Action Center and just enter your zip code to find your legislators’ names, numbers email addresses, twitter handles, Facebook addresses, and more.  Remember to check both your work and home zip codes.

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