House Energy and Commerce Committee Approves Palliative Care Bill

ACS CAN Calls for the Full House of Representatives to Take Timely Action

July 12, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA). The bipartisan bill, which was unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health last month, would increase federal research funding for palliative care, including symptom and pain management, and would establish palliative care education and training programs for doctors, nurses and other health professionals. It would also create a national public education and awareness campaign to educate patients and providers about the availability and benefits of palliative care.

A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), follows:

“Today’s markup of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee is another step in the right direction as we work to improve the coordination of care and quality of life for cancer patients, survivors and others living with serious illnesses. Palliative care is a team-based approach focusing on the relief of pain and suffering for individuals living with serious illnesses that aims to provide an extra layer of support at any age or stage of illness and is often coupled with curative treatment. Evidence-based studies have demonstrated that high-quality palliative care not only improves quality of life and patient and family satisfaction, but can also prolong survival.

“In coordination with the Patient Quality of Life Coalition (PQLC), which has membership of over 40 patient, provider and health system organizations, ACS CAN has led the charge to raise awareness about the critical need for greater patient access to palliative care services, including appropriate pain management. We strongly believe the PCHETA legislation will aid in this effort by investing in pain and symptom management training for health care providers while also bolstering federal pain research efforts at the National Institutes of Health.

“With recently released data showing nearly half of cancer patients and more than half of those with other serious illnesses have experienced barriers to accessing needed pain medication in the last two years, Congress must address the misuse and abuse of prescription pain medications in a balanced way that preserves the ability of cancer patients and survivors to access necessary and appropriate pain care. The PCHETA legislation should be a part of that effort.

“We’re pleased to see the House Energy and Commerce Committee work in a bipartisan fashion to advance this important legislation. We commend Congressman Elliot Engel (D-NY), Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), and Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) for championing the PCHETA legislation and thank Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Pallone for their leadership in advancing  this bill through committee with overwhelming bipartisan support. ACS CAN is calling on the full House of Representatives to follow suit and pass this bill on a bipartisan basis in a timely manner.”

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