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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- Establishing grant programs for nurse education in hospice and palliative care (NEW!);
- 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
- 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!