Last Thursday, US Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), co-chair and founder of the bipartisan Comprehensive Care Caucus and a member of the Special Committee on Aging, announced the late-night passage of a resolution recognizing November as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Deb Fischer (R-NE), co-chairs and co-founders of the Comprehensive Care Caucus, co-sponsored the resolution.
“We are thrilled to see the growing recognition of hospice and palliative care as indispensable to healthcare as a whole,” said National Partnership for Hospice and Healthcare Innovation (NPHI) CEO Tom Koutsoumpas. “We applaud the leadership of Senators Rosen, Barrasso, Baldwin and Fischer, and look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues on the Hill to expand access to person-centered healthcare.”
National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is an opportunity to recognize and honor the work of all providers, caregivers, advocates, policymakers, and patients who’ve helped bring high-quality hospice and palliative care to people and families living with life-limiting and serious illness.
Palliative care and hospice involve an interdisciplinary team with a whole-person approach to care. While symptom control is key, high-quality palliative and hospice care also address patients’ social, emotional and spiritual needs. Indeed, one 2010 study showed that palliative care significantly improved the quality of life of patients with advanced lung cancer: Patients reported reduced symptoms of depression, required hospitalization less often, and even survived longer.
Unfortunately, despite recommendations by the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, approximately two-thirds of patients living with serious illness do not receive palliative care. Moreover, about 50% of patients who enter hospice die within 3-weeks, suggesting late referral.
“As someone who chose to step back from their career to make sure my parents and in-laws got the care and support they needed, I understand the struggle that so many Americans and their loved ones go through to access quality health care later in life,” said Senator Rosen in the announcement. “Recognizing National Hospice and Palliative Care Month helps bring awareness to all the ways in which hospice and palliative care providers improve the quality of life for so many patients and help alleviate the pain for their families who are also navigating these challenges.”
In addition to launching the bipartisan Comprehensive Care Caucus last Congress, Senators Rosen, Barrasso, Baldwin, and Fischer, also introduced the Expanding Access to Palliative Care Act in July, which, if enacted, would allow palliative care to be covered alongside curative treatment under Medicare, improving provider flexibility and patient quality of life. Also in June, Senator Rosen introduced the bipartisan Improving Access to Transfusion Care for Hospice Patients Act of 2021, which aims to allow Medicare patients access to transfusion services in addition to the full hospice benefit. Finally, in September, Senators Rosen and Murkowski (R-AK), introduced the Provider Training in Palliative care Act, would permit National Health Service Corps members to defer their service for a year to pursue additional training in palliative care.
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The National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI) is a collaborative of 75+ not-for-profit, community-integrated hospice and palliative care providers dedicated to ensuring patients and their families have access to care that reflects their individual goals, values and preferences. Representing providers from 31 states and the District of Columbia, NPHI and its members help design more innovative and effective models of care, advocate for comprehensive and community-integrated care customized to meet each person’s unique needs, and build collaboration between national thought leaders, decision-makers, and other healthcare stakeholders to improve hospice care. Learn more about NPHI at nphi.info.