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Senators Rosen, Murkowski Get Creative to Promote Palliative Care

Last week, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced the introduction of their Provider Training in Palliative Care ActThis bipartisan legislation would allow members of the National Health Service Corps to defer their service for up to a year to do additional training in palliative care.

This bill is an example of the value of having relationships with champions on this Hill, such as Sen. Rosen who has spoken at C-TAC policy events and we work closely with her office to improve the care of those living with serious illness.

Sen. Rosen said her motivation for supporting this and other legislation to promote palliative care was her own experience caring for her parents and in-laws as they aged. She also founded the Senate Comprehensive Care Caucus in 2019. That caucus has recently introduced bills to test a model for serious illness care and to expand the kinds of treatment that hospices could offer and serves as a focal point in the Senate for issues for those living with serious illness.

This latest bill addresses one of C-TAC’s policy priorities, which is to increase the workforce of those providing care to people living with serious illness. In this case, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) builds healthy communities by supporting qualified health care providers dedicated to working in areas with limited access to care. They do this via scholarships and loan repayment for qualified providers who make a service commitment to work in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The bipartisan Provider Training in Palliative Care Act would allow participants in this program to defer their services for up to a year to do additional training in palliative care, so long as they provide primary care during their service with the Corps. Currently, participants are prohibited from deferring for training in palliative care, regardless of whether or not they continue to care for patients as a primary care provider. This bill is a creative way to promote the palliative care specialty.

Additionally, the Provider Training in Palliative Care Act is endorsed by key stakeholders, including AARP, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, C-TAC, National Association for Home Care and Hospice, National Partnership for Hospice Innovation, National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care, National Rural Health Association, and American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

C-TAC’s Executive Director Jon Broyles supported the bill saying, “The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) is pleased to endorse the Provider Training in Palliative Care Act introduced by Senators Rosen and Murkowski. For many years, C-TAC has supported this legislation and its goal of expanding the number of health care professionals with palliative care training. This modified bill reflects a thoughtful bipartisan effort to reach the goal and the continued leadership of Senator Rosen in the serious illness field. We believe that enabling NHSC participants to defer their service for up to one year for a palliative fellowship or other palliative training opportunity will be a tipping point incentive for those who want to pursue palliative care in their careers.” 

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