PCHETA Introduced in House!

The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R. 3119)–otherwise known as PCHETA–was introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday! Congressmen Engel (NY-16) and Reed (NY-23) are the lead sponsors on the bill, and Congressman Cleaver (MO-5) is an original co-sponsor. The NHPCO Public Policy Committee voted to support this legislation on its June 2015 conference call.

This legislation is an amended version of the PCHETA bills introduced in 2013 by Senator Wyden and Congressmen Blumenauer and Roe. Some changes and additions were made to the bill this spring, however. The central goals of this current iteration of PCHETA are:

  1. Establishing palliative care and hospice education centers to improve the training of interdisciplinary health professionals in palliative care; develop and disseminate curricula relating to palliative care; support the training and retraining of faculty; support continuing education; and provide students with clinical training in appropriate sites of care;
  2. Authorizing  grants or contracts to schools of medicine, teaching hospitals and GME programs to train physicians (including residents, trainees, and fellows) who plan to teach palliative medicine. Programs would be required to develop specific performance-based measures to evaluate the competency of trainees;
  3. Establishing a program to promote the career development of physicians who are board certified or board eligible in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and have a junior (non-tenured) faculty appointment at an accredited school of medicine;
  4. Establishing grant programs for nurse education in hospice and palliative care (NEW!);
  5. Planning and implementation of a national education and awareness campaign to inform patients, families, and health professionals about the benefits of palliative care throughout the continuum of care for patients with serious or life threatening illness. (NEW!); and
  6. Expanding and intensifying research programs in palliative care to address the quality of care and quality of life for the rapidly growing U.S. population of patients with serious or life threatening illnesses, including but not limited to cancer; heart, kidney, liver, lung, and infectious diseases; as well as neurodegenerative disease such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease or ALS. (NEW!)

So you can see that, even though the title and main provisions are the same, bills and legislation really can evolve over time. Introducing a bill that didn’t pass in the 113th Congress in the 114th Congress isn’t always a simple matter of “plug-and-play.” Members of Congress take the legislation they introduce and support very seriously. And this includes allowing them to shift and change throughout the years.

Check out NHPCO’s letter of support for PCHETA. We’ll keep you posted on any developments with this, and all, legislation that NHPCO supports!


Just wanted to share this great follow-up email from a #HAN15 attendee to their Member of Congress. It’s a textbook example of how to ‘do it right’. I’ve taken out some identifying details, but I’ll post it generally in its entirety and then offer one or two thoughts:

Hi [staffer with whom person met],

Thank you for taking my call today.  Good to talk with you!  With time short on this Senate Sign-on letter (until Friday!) I hoped to circle back with belated thanks to XXXX for meeting with me and our small delegation from [State] last Tuesday.

Attached is the letter initiated by Sens. Pat Roberts, and Mark R. Warner, and corresponding HR 3037 in the House initiated by Tom Reed (NY-23), and Thompson (CA-5).

May we count on Senator XXXX to sign onto the Senate letter to CMS?  Thus far, in addition to Sens. Roberts and Warner, the letter has been signed by Senators Hirono (HI), Tester (MT), Ayotte (NH), and Gardner (CO).

The letter asks for a test run (demonstration project) for 1 year starting Oct. 1, in one MAC only, to contain and work out glitches before launching on the entire nation’s hospice providers and the patients and families being served by them.  The hospice community agrees with and likes the two-tiered payment methodology; however has deep concern about technical infrastructure, education and training needed to implement payment reform across the U.S. in one fell swoop, concurrent with ICD-10, another major change for which we have worked hard to be ready.  We are concerned CMS realistically won’t be ready.

However, CMS wishes to do this is fine, but our hope is one MAC only.  We think CMS overlooked previous input on testing it out since hospice is still such a small part of everything that CMS has going on.

We thank Senator XXXX in advance for his thoughtful consideration to sign-on the letter in behalf of hospice patients and quality providers serving them. We appreciate that he is incredibly busy accomplishing much good in representing [State] and the national interest in Congress!

There is another Senate bill, S1349, you may be aware, Support the Care Planning Act, that just dropped late last Monday, that I would like to talk with you about later.

Thanks, again, XXXX!  I and we really appreciate your openness and accessibility.

Gratefully yours,


My thoughts:

  1. The letter is polite but not obsequious.
  2. The ask is straightforward. Note the directness: “May we count on Senator XXXX to sign onto the Senate letter to CMS?”. It’s okay to be this direct!
  3. The writer gives context, but doesn’t offer up 5 pages of text for the staff member to wade through. It is as concise as it can be.

Just a textbook example of follow-up communications to a Congressional office.  I love it.

Attending a Conference instead of Running One!

Just a quick note to all my Hospice Advocates! I am proud to represent the Hospice Action Network, and therefore all of you, at the Public Affairs Council’s Digital Media and Advocacy Summit! Those of you who attended the Social Media presentation at #HAN15 will already be familiar with the important role social media plays in influencing Members of Congress, but for the rest of you: get on social media! Twitter is the next frontier, according to Brad Fitch of the Congressional Management Foundation. Legislators watch who is tweeting at them, what they are tweeting, and what groups they are affiliated with. So those of you already doing it, keep up the good work! And for the rest of you, get those thumbs moving!

Follow me @GrassrootsDrew for updates from the conference and check out #DMAS15 to see what other attendees are saying!

Keep on Calling!

We are getting some great feedback from our people on Capitol Hill regarding your Click2Call efforts! Here is the tally so far:

New Signatories to the Roberts/Warner CMS Testing Letter:

1. Jon Tester (MT)

2.  Mazie Hirono (HI)

3. Kelly Ayotte (NH)

4. Cory Gardner (CO)

New Co-Sponsors to the Care Planning Act (S. 1549):

– No hard commitments yet, keep those calls coming!

New Co-Sponsors to the Hospice Access Improvement Act of 2015 (HR 3037):

1. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA8)

2. Alcee Hastings (F-FL20)

3. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ1)


We will keep Click2Call open though Friday, when the sign-on period for the Roberts/Warner letter closes. Keep calling, emailing, tweeting, and facebooking your legislators to get some more signatures! Especially try for those legislators who have supported the Care Planning Act, but not yet signed the letter!


In the meantime, here are some great pictures from our Click2Call Advocates!

Kristy DeWitt is a Hospice Advocate! Thanks Kristy!
Kristy DeWitt is a Hospice Advocate! Thanks Kristy!
Janice Valentino is a Hospice Advocate! Thanks Janice!
Janice Valentino is a Hospice Advocate! Thanks Janice!
Kathryn Grigsby is a Hospice Advocate! Thanks Kathryn!
Kathryn Grigsby is a Hospice Advocate! Thanks Kathryn!

DC’n Ain’t Easy… So Thanks For The Help.

I just wanted to write a quick note of thanks to Outcome Resources, our sponsor for the 2015 Advocacy Intensive. You see, there are some behind-the-scenes parts about the Intensive that really need critical support that you might not know about.

For starters, the event is free for attendees. We know that getting to DC isn’t easy, and that the hotel rates can be… steep, but still we do our best to remove as many barriers to attendance as possible. Believe me, if you thought the rooms were expensive, you should see how much a boxed lunch costs!!!

Cost: One arm, one leg.
Cost: One arm, one leg.

Secondly, we welcome robust attendance from every hospice program that wants to send their caregivers and attendees. But if you know a bit about how the Congressional process works, you’ll know that there are key committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that have jurisdiction over hospice issues. It’s critical that the hospice community have attendees from those states and districts whose Members of Congress sit on those committees. Many (but not all) of the Members of Congress on those committees are from rural states where the funds to cover a visit to DC are simply too scarce. That’s where support from Outcome Resources comes through.

This year, sponsorship by Outcome Resources provided travel assistance to cover 15 key states and Congressional districts! I can’t even put into words how much this helps. Our voice, your voice is stronger as a direct result of this support.

<center>A few of the 2015 Scholarship Attendees w/ Dr. McDonough of Outcome Resources.</center>
A few of the 2015 Scholarship Attendees w/ Dr. McDonough of Outcome Resources

So while we’re all still Zombies here at HAN HQ, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a huge ‘Thanks!’ to Outcome Resources. They have been long-time supporters of the Intensive, not only financially, but also in their commitment to advocacy. They serve on NHPCO’s Public Policy Committee, and they always send a great delegation to the Advocacy Intensive. They’re ‘all in’ with us, and we’re thankful for their partnership!