Legislators across the United States are recognizing what ONS has advocated for more than a decade: the need for improved access to and better understanding of palliative and hospice care. In September 2021, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) voiced their support for palliative care through a letter to the U.S. Congress.

In the letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Baldwin and Clarke recommended that “efforts to grow, improve, and sustain the palliative care and hospice workforce to keep pace with patient need and to help improve the well-being of Americans with serious illnesses and their families” be included in the upcoming reconciliation package. They also said the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) should be used as a model for the work.

“Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for quality palliative and hospice care has only grown more pronounced,” Baldwin and Clarke said. “Hospitals have treated thousands of seriously ill patients under extremely stressful circumstances, and patients and their families have faced incredibly difficult decisions, often without the necessary guidance or expertise of a palliative care team.”

ONS voiced its support for the letter, as well as other professional organizations such as the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care, Center to Advance Palliative Care, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“PCHETA is a top priority for ONS, and we strongly believe it will help address the current gap in trained palliative care professionals, including those caring for patients with cancer,” ONS President Nancy Houlihan, MA, RN, AOCN®, said in Baldwin’s press release about the letter. “ONS applauds Senator Baldwin and Representative Clarke for urging that the upcoming reconciliation package invest in a well-trained palliative care workforce to meet the needs of caring for patients with serious illness, including cancer.”