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May 25, 2022

King Joins Bipartisan Bill to Improve Palliative and Hospice Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to strengthen Maine’s palliative and hospice care workforce as the need for the services grows across the state. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) will support the well-being of Americans with terminal illnesses and their families by investing in training, education, and research for the care. The bill aims to attract more people into the field – which is seeing a widening workforce shortfall – while expanding resources to retain current workers.

“Palliative and hospice care are vital, deeply personal services for countless Maine families and provide important quality of life support for those facing serious illnesses,” said Senator King. “As the need for this care grows, it’s important the resources and workforce for the field grows along with it. This bipartisan legislation will help the workforce keep up with growing needs, train more people to perform these essential services for Maine people with life-threatening illnesses, and make sure that the field can provide the best care possible to those in need.”

“The Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care, along with its members and partners, wish to thank Senator Angus King for his steadfast support of PCHETA. We realize that every patient/family living with serious illness deserves access to comprehensive pain and symptom management.  Research shows that palliative care is a high quality, cost-effective approach to serious illness care. We’re proud to say that many Maine health care providers have been champions for many years,” said Kandyce Powell, Executive Director of Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care. We are grateful for Senator King’s support of PCHETA. It gives us hope for the future.

Palliative and hospice care focuses on relieving patients’ suffering from serious illnesses and improving their quality of life. Medical research shows that palliative and hospice care have been associated with enhanced quality of life for patients, reduced hospital expenditures and lengths of stay. As palliative care needs increase, the number of professionals and providers needed to fulfill patient needs has not kept pace. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act will help build a health care workforce more closely aligned with the nation’s evolving health care needs and improve care and quality of life for millions of Americans facing serious illness by focusing on three key areas:

  • Workforce Training: Ensure we have education centers, curricula, and teachers to expand interdisciplinary training in palliative and hospice care and establish programs to attract and retain providers.
  • Education and Awareness: Share resources and information to ensure that patients, families and health professionals are informed about the benefits of palliative care and the services that are available to support patients with serious or life-threatening illness.
  • Enhanced Research: Direct NIH to use existing authorities and funds to expand palliative care research to advance clinical practice and improve care delivery for patients with serious or life-threatening illness.

The bipartisan legislation is also supported by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Senator King has consistently worked to build a stronger healthcare workforce and provide better care to Maine’s seniors and people in need. Last year, he introduced three key pieces of legislation to improve the quality of homecare by providing career support and advancement opportunities for direct care service providers, and spoke on the Senate floor about the benefits of home healthcare investments. He also sponsored the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act which would allow Medicare payment for home health services ordered by a nurse practitioner, a clinical nurse specialist, a certified nurse-midwife, or a physician assistant.

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