Ministry advocates from across the nation met last month in Washington, D.C., to educate Congress about the importance of palliative care and advocate passage of legislation to expand access.
The Catholic health system representatives participated in the Capitol Hill lobby day as part of the Patient Quality of Life Coalition, which includes CHA and more than 20 nongovernmental organizations devoted to improving quality of life for those with serious illnesses, and their families.
During visits to Capitol Hill offices, the advocates encouraged passage of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, which would increase the number of permanent faculty in palliative care at accredited allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, nursing schools and other programs to promote education in palliative care and hospice, and to support the development of faculty careers in academic palliative medicine.
Another bill the advocates supported is the Patient Centered Quality Care for Life Act, which would provide new resources for palliative care research, professional training and education outreach to help expand the availability of palliative care for all patients and families facing serious or life-threatening illness.
"From the moment of diagnosis, palliative care gives people with serious conditions and their families a voice in determining the course of their care and a team-based approach to manage their symptoms and meet their goals for treatment," Michael Rodgers, CHA's senior vice president of advocacy and public policy, said in a coalition press release.
Palliative care, Rodgers continued, "improves patients' quality of life, can help patients live longer and can save the system money." In a letter to all members of the House and Senate, CHA explained the importance of effective palliative care programs: "Palliative care has been shown to lower health care costs through reduced emergency room visits, time in the hospital and use of intensive care services. Studies also show that early access to palliative care for seriously ill patients improves their quality of life, and, in some cases, even prolongs it."
Ministry members took part in more than 50 meetings in lawmakers' offices, with a focus on palliative care and the importance of legislative attention to the issue. According to the coalition, some 90 million Americans currently live with some type of serious illness, underscoring the need for compassionate and comprehensive approaches.
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