Alec Stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

The Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA) is a key ONS policy priority. After unsuccessfully navigating both chambers of the 115th Congress prior to the 2018 midterm elections, the bill had to begin its legislative journey once again in the new 116th congressional session.

On July 10, 2019, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) reintroduced the important bipartisan legislation to appreciation from the provider and patient advocacy community. The senators’ continued leadership and support of PCHETA has been crucial to keeping the bill alive. Additionally, Senators Angus King (I-VT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and John Hoeven (R-ND), who were original cosponsors, continued to be strong champions of the legislation throughout the Senate.  

The bill, S. 2080, which has support from more than 40 organizations including ONS, would improve and expand access to palliative care, appropriate pain management for all patients, and educational resources for healthcare providers. The supporting coalition represents patients, health professionals, and healthcare system leaders.

As oncology nurses are aware, palliative care is an interprofessional model of care focused on managing pain, stress, and other debilitating symptoms of serious illness including cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer disease, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and multiple sclerosis. The goal is to relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for patients and families. Palliative care is offered simultaneously with curative therapies for people living with serious, complex illness. By its very nature, palliative care is patient-centered care—translating patient goals for quality of life to appropriate treatments and symptom management.

PCHETA increases federal research funding for palliative care; establishes palliative care education and training programs for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals; and provides for patient and provider education about the availability and benefits of palliative care.