Palliative Care Legislation to Become Law in West Virginia

Del. Summers Legislation to Improve Patient Quality of Life Passed the West Virginia Legislature Today and is on its Way to the Governor’s Desk

March 7, 2018

Charleston, WV–March 7, 2018–The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and AARP commends the West Virginia legislature for improving the quality of life of cancer patients and their families through palliative care. ACS CAN and AARP are proud to have lead the effort to pass this legislation in West Virginia. 

Through her firsthand experience as a nurse, Del. Amy Summers saw the benefits of an effective palliative care program. After going through cancer herself and seeing what other patients go through including her brother, she introduced palliative care legislation in January of 2018.

The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and their family. It is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work with the patient’s primary care physician and other physicians providing disease treatment to deliver an extra layer of support.  It is appropriate at any age and at any stage of serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment to help patients get well faster and easier.  

Most importantly, research indicates that palliative care systems improve health outcomes while reducing health care costs. Studies have shown coordinating patient care and treating pain and symptoms leads to increased patient and family satisfaction and decreases the time spent in intensive care units and the likelihood patients will be readmitted to hospitals.  

Del. Summers’s legislation seeks to establish a palliative care advisory coalition, which would bring together experts to address barriers to this option and identify innovative solutions for West Virginians. This council would emphasize provider training, patient awareness and overall access to palliative care.

“Currently many healthcare consumers do not know about palliative care and how it could benefit them,” said Juliana Frederick Curry, West Virginia government relations director for ACS CAN. “This bill will increase the demand for a system of care that has proven quality of life outcomes. I urge Gov. James Justice sign this legislation in to law as soon as possible and look forward to working with the council to improve quality of care in West Virginia.”

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


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