A Hearty Welcome to New VP for Public Policy, Sharon Scribner Pearce!

NHPCO and the Hospice Action Network are happy to announce that we have a new Vice President of Public Policy, Sharon Scribner Pearce! Sharon is a much-anticipated and welcome addition to our team, and we hope you will all make her feel welcome to the larger movement! I asked her to please introduce herself to you all with a short message: 

Sharon also surprised the HAN team with peanut M&Ms on her first day...an auspicious start indeed!
Sharon also surprised the HAN team with peanut M&Ms on her first day…an auspicious start indeed!

Greetings Hospice Action Network!  I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself.  I joined NHPCO on Monday as the new VP for Public Policy (i.e., the new Angie Truesdale).  I come to NHPCO with almost 20 years of health policy experience, most recently as VP of Advocacy for the National PACE Association. I also spent about 6 years on Capitol Hill, 5 years as a hired-gun lobbyist at a large K Street firm, and 3.5 years at Girl Scouts of the USA.  So I know health care, politics, trade associations and Girl Scout cookies pretty well.

That said, I still have a lot to learn about how things work in the hospice universe, and will be looking to you all  – the folks at the front line of the hospice movement – to better understand how regulations and policies affect your ability to serve patients, what threats and challenges are keeping you up at night, and how you think policy change can improve your ability to deliver care.  I’ll be in at the Clinical Team Conference in Grapevine, TX in a couple of weeks, so if you’re planning to attend CTC, track me down there.  Alternatively, shoot me an email and we can set up a time to connect on the phone.  I look forward to working with you all!

-Sharon Scribner Pearce, VP Public Policy

Public Support “Overwhelming” for Advanced Care Planning

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: September 2015


A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation just released today shows that eight out of ten Americans support the idea of government or private health insurance paying for end-of-life and advanced care planning discussions.From the article by Jordan Rau, “These discussions can include whether people would want to be kept alive by artificial means even if they had no chance of regaining consciousness or autonomy and whether they would want their organs to be donated. These preferences can be incorporated into advance directives, or living wills, which are used if someone can no longer communicate.”

This is great news! It is getting quite a buzz on social media, even making its way to Congress:

I ask all of you blog followers to please Tweet and Facebook about this important poll. We need to get the word out that advanced care planning, and specifically the Care Planning Act, is a bipartisan, popular, necessary, and compassionate cause that benefits all Americans!


A Palliative care nurse shares her stories, and you should, too

Photo Credit: Kacso Sandot
Photo Credit: Kacso Sandot

Here at HAN, we are always promoting the notion that front-line caregivers and their personal stories are key in educating and advocating for hospice and palliative care. In a new book, “The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve House, Four Patients’ Lives,” palliative care nurse Theresa Brown tells us her stories, and in doing so highlights the important role hospice and palliative care nurses play in helping families have those difficult but necessary conversations about the end of life. Brown says, “There can be a lot of secrets kept and silences. … One thing that palliative care can be really good at is trying to sit with families and have those conversations.”

As a Hospice Advocate, when you see a story like this, don’t be afraid to tweet it or post it to your Member of Congress’s Facebook wall. Members of Congress need to see what their constituents are passionate about, and if you feel uncomfortable telling your own story, you can still get our message out by sharing stories like these.

Have a question about how to interact with your legislators? Check out of some our online resources here, or send us an email! We are always happy to help!


Effectively Using Facebook for Advocacy

I wanted to take the time today to give you all some tips on using Facebook to advocate for hospice and palliative care! I know you follow us, and that is great, but there are some more things you can do to help get the message out!

  1. A like is great, but a share is even better!

    1. We love that you like what we post, but if you like something, you want other people to see it, right? We don’t want to only preach to the choir, but also reach out to people who need to be educated on the benefits of hospice and palliative care. You can help us do this by sharing our posts to the rest of your friends!
  2. Share our posts, or post our links, on your Member of Congress’s Facebook page

    1. Did you know that not only can you share our posts to your legislator’s timeline, but you can also take any of our resources (The Care Planning Act, PCHETA, and Hospice Care Access and Improvement Act, for example) and post them to your Member of Congress’s page? You might say something like this:
      1. Please support the Care Planning Act, Senator XXXX. I live in the state of XX, and as a hospice supporter, it is important for all Americans to have access to quality care at the end of life.
      2. Please support the Hospice Care Access and Improvement Act (HR3037), Congressman (or woman!) XXXX. I live in the town of XXXX (make sure it is in their district!), and as a hospice supporter, it is important for all Americans to have access to quality care at the end of life.
    2. When posting to a Member of Congress’s page, make sure you use their name, and show them that you are a constituent by stating your state of residence for the Senators, and town of residence for the Representatives. Tell them why hospice matters to you, and let them see your passion.
    3. Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct, and you maintain a positive tone. Staffers ignore people who appear to be ranting or type in all capital letters, and it can make your cause look bad, too.
    4. It only takes a few posts to have an influence on a legislator, so get your friends and coworkers to post, too! Every post helps!
  3. Make sure you add HAN to your See First list!

    1. Facebook has a tricky way of not always showing you every post that your groups share with you. To combat this, you can add HAN to your See First list! You can also click Get Notifications so you are notified when we have added something new. That way you won’t miss a single post from us!SeeFirst

Do you have any questions on how to use Facebook for advocacy? Let us know in the comments, or email me! Happy Facebooking!

Executive Director Jon Keyserling on the Pope, John Boehner, and the Impending Shut-Down

The following is a guest post from HAN’s Executive Director Jon Keyserling on what is REALLY going on in Washington:

Wow.  What a crazy week.

The Pope comes to Washington, Speaker John Boehner resigns, and there is a threat of a government shutdown.  Let’s be clear, two of the foregoing may be related, and the third is probably not (but, stay tuned to the cable networks.  They might be able to somehow tie them all together).

So, what, if anything, does all this mean for the hospice and palliative care community?  Fair question.

Some are saying that Boehner's departure will help avert a shutdown...We aren't sure about that, but we do know there will be one more parking space on Capitol Hill!
Some are saying that Boehner’s departure will help avert a shutdown…We aren’t sure about that, but we do know there will be one more parking space on Capitol Hill!

Probably not much, other than pretty much of the same partisanship and pointed rhetoric flying across the Capitol, all directed toward the upcoming elections in 2016.  As was mentioned right after the last election, the question for Congress was whether they were interested in campaigning or governing.  Clearly, we have their answer.

In the meantime, if the Congress is unable to come up with a budget deal to avert the shutdown, hospices will continue to be paid, as they were during the previous government shutdown in 2013.  The question is still unanswered about whether or not the states will be able to implement all the requirements of the new payment model.  But, we are working closely, in partnership, with the state organizations (as well as CMS) to do everything we can to assure the transition to the new payment model.

Our advocacy for the hospice and palliative care community continues, in a bi-partisan, substantive manner.  We are trying to steer clear of politics and some of the craziness that colors everyone’s perceptions of Washington.  Our professional staff at NHPCO and HAN, along with our seasoned lobbyists, are a constant presence on the Hill.

And, you play a huge role in carrying the hospice and palliative care message to our elected leaders, both during the hugely successful Advocacy Intensive (we have already started planning for next year, and the year after), and at home, with site visits and neighborly contacts (after all, Members of Congress are your neighbors).

So, to the extent you can, tune out the noise and stay in touch.