Improving quality of life for patients and their families is a top priority for ACS CAN’s advocacy agenda, and advancing policies that expand access to palliative care is an essential component of our work to support cancer patients around the country.
Guest Post: Ore. Palliative Medicine Physician Makes Waves on Capitol Hill
ACS CAN volunteers and staff recently participated in the Patient Quality of Life Coalition (PQLC) lobby day to ask lawmakers to support the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA). Dr. Laura Mavity was one of the incredible ACS CAN volunteers who joined us. Dr. Mavity is a palliative medicine physician practicing in Bend, Ore. with St. Charles Health System and is the clinical director ofÎ¾its palliative care program. I asked her to recount her experience at the PQLC lobby day and what the experience meant for her as a provider of palliative care. I had the honor of participating in the Patient Quality of Life Coalition lobby day on July 21 with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Although I have been an avid voter and try to stay abreast of political issues, I have never previously had the opportunity to engage in such a personal way with our national government. It was awesome experience seeing the inside the beautiful, historical Capitol and other buildings that lodge our national legislators and their staff as they work to advocate for what they believe is good for our country and their constituents. I met with six House of Representative members or their staff during a fun and busy day, but the highlight was meeting my own congressman, Rep. Greg Walden. He and his staff showed our lobbying team a warm welcome, and he even invited me sit in his chair for pictures. Better yet, after our lobby day he decided to co-sponsor our bill!
Our lobbying team worked hard to convince these legislators that access to high-quality palliative care is good for our country and their constituents. The day began with an impressive introduction to the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA)that was just introduced in the House (H.R. 3119). I was struck by the impressive amount of work already done by ACS CAN on this bill to give it the best chance of bipartisan support. My lobby day team was made up of expert staff from ACS CAN and others who came from opposite ends of the U.S. to represent multiple organizations, all speaking in support of access to palliative care for our country. I was touched by the bravery that it took for some to share their personal stories about why palliative care is so important, as these stories conveyed emotion difficult to share with strangers. As a palliative medicine physician for the past decade, I have spent much of my career advocating at a local level for palliative care and its benefits, often feeling the need to prove the value in the work done by palliative care providers. Although I am thanked by the patients and families that I work with daily, I spend much of my time explaining palliative care's benefits to others due to lack of awareness by the public and medical providers. I cannot express how moved I was to spend a day hearing others who are not palliative care providers passionately advocate for how it is so beneficial for patients and their families who are coping with serious illness. After lobby day, I now feel much less alone in my own efforts to promote palliative care access. It was an honor to rub shoulders with national legislators as well as my lobby day team and all the ACS CAN staff who continue the fight for the PCHETA Bill, while I get to continue my work providing palliative care for patients and their families. I cannot thank ACS CAN enough for your partnership and support for palliative care.