Access to Palliative Care Poised to Grow
Palliative care is patient and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering. Palliative care throughout the continuum of illness involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs and to facilitate patient autonomy, access to information and choice.
Right now, Medicare beneficiaries are in need, because they cannot access home-based palliative care. This means that patients and families miss out on the wealth of resources and support that palliative care providers can offer. When patients have access, palliative care providers address physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs, and facilitate patient autonomy and choice.
To address these needs, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Hospice Action Network have been leading efforts to expand access to palliative care across the country.
In July, Senators Rosen (D-NV), Barrasso (R-WY), Fischer (R-NE), and Baldwin (D-WI), introduced the Expanding Access to Palliative Care Act (S. 2565), which would direct the Innovation Center at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to implement a Community-Based Palliative Care Demonstration. Through this demonstration, CMMI would test the impact of a Community-Based Palliative Care on both patients and the Medicare trust fund.
Access to palliative care where a patient calls home will improve patients’ quality of life, allowing patients and families to spend more time together, and less time in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. It will also protect medically vulnerable people from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 and other illnesses.