The National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care (Coalition) and its 13 national organizational Members voted unanimously to endorse the bi-partisan “Expanding Access to Palliative Care for Seniors Act” introduced today by the Co-Chairs of the Senate Comprehensive Care Caucus, Senators Rosen (D-NV), Barrasso (R-WY), Baldwin, (D-WI) and Fischer (R-NE).

“Approximately 6,000,000 people in the United States could benefit from palliative care and are not receiving it – this bi-partisan bill signals to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that the time has come to test a national model of care that focuses on improving the quality of life for people living with serious illness,” said Amy Melnick, MPA, Executive Director of the Coalition.

Palliative care is delivered by an interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, physician assistants, pharmacists, and others who work together to relieve the pain and suffering of a serious illness and provide the best possible quality of life for patients and their families.

Edo Banach, Coalition Board President adds, “Our Coalition Members have a long history of legislative and regulatory advocacy requesting the development and implementation of a community-based palliative care demonstration at CMS. Patients and families who need palliative care should be able to access it where they want it most – in their homes and communities. Our Coalition asked Congress last year to consider legislation and encourage CMS to move forward in this direction. We commend Senators Rosen, Barrasso, Baldwin and Fischer for listening and for their leadership today”.

Community-based palliative care programs and hospices, in addition to other qualified providers such as home health agencies or specialized group practices, working in partnership with patients’ broader healthcare teams, are uniquely positioned to deliver this model of care.

The benefits of a community-based palliative care demonstration will include improving the quality of care for seriously ill individuals, reducing preventable hospitalizations through symptom management, enhancing the use of telehealth, and reducing the total cost of care.

Melnick notes that “this bi-partisan Congressional legislation and support for palliative care demonstrates that Congress wants CMS to test access to a robust home and community-based palliative care and services model so that many more Medicare beneficiaries, many of our most vulnerable and at risk, will have access to this care now.” 

The National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care is a 501c3 organization that works together to ensure that all patients, families and caregivers who need it will have equitable access to quality hospice and palliative care.