Crucial Legislation Would Improve Quality of Life for Cancer Patients in 2015

Bill Aims to Expand Palliative Care Research, Access and Awareness

July 21, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 21, 2015 – Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Tom Reed (R-NY) introduced bipartisan legislation today that would improve the experience of cancer patients and their families by better coordinating their care from the point of diagnosis and addressing the often debilitating symptoms of treatment. The bill would put in place the building blocks necessary to make palliative care widely available to people with serious illness during and after treatment by expanding research, access and public awareness.

The “Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act” (H.R. 3119) supports the growing demand for palliative care, which is specialized medical care that focuses on care coordination and relief from pain, stress and other symptoms of treatment for a life-threatening disease such as cancer. The Engel-Reed bill would facilitate and expand federal research into palliative care; support training for nurses, nurse practitioners and other allied health professionals to effectively practice palliative care; and establish a national palliative care public education and awareness campaign.

“From the moment of diagnosis, palliative care uses a team-based approach to give people with serious illness and their families a voice in determining the overall goals of treatment, setting the specific course of care and managing symptoms,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Millions of patients suffer from pain, shortness of breath, nausea and other symptoms of chronic disease with no idea that palliative care can relieve their symptoms and provide them with a better quality of life.”

Palliative care is appropriate at any age and any stage of a serious illness, and can be provided alongside curative treatment. It is delivered by trained specialists who work together with doctors and nurses in a team-based approach that focuses on the patients’ needs, explains treatment options and gives patients and their families a voice in realizing their treatment goals. The legislation acts on clinical research supported by the American Cancer Society demonstrating that patients receiving palliative care spend less time in intensive care, have fewer hospital readmissions and generally experience a better quality of life during treatment.

Public opinion research found seven in ten Americans do not know about palliative care. However, once the public understands what it can provide for patients, 92 percent report they would be highly likely to ask for palliative care for themselves or their families if they had a serious illness, and 92 percent say patients should have access to this type of care at hospitals.

The legislation is supported by the Patient Quality of Life Coalition, an alliance of 32 organizations, including ACS CAN, dedicated to improving quality of care and quality of life for adults and children facing serious illnesses, survivors and their families.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

Lauren Walens or Steven Weiss
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Phone: (202) 661-5763 or (202) 661-5711
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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