Thursday, June 28, 2018

News From Congressman Eliot Engel

Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Passes Engel Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act

  The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee unanimously approved H.R. 1676, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), legislation authored by Congressman Eliot L. Engel.

Palliative care focuses on alleviating suffering for patients and their loved ones, accompanying efforts to treat or cure illness. It involves communication with patients and their families to coordinate care, determine patient preferences, and assist with medical decision-making. This extra layer of support is appropriate for patients with serious illnesses starting at the point of diagnosis, through treatment, and onward through hospice and the end of life.

Palliative care can help patients and families cope with the symptoms, stress and pain of illness, but many aren’t aware of these benefits. In addition, there is a shortage of educated providers who can offer quality palliative care. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act addresses these issues by expanding opportunities for training in palliative and hospice care. The bill also seeks to better educate patients, families and health professionals about palliative care’s benefits and encourages the National Institutes of Health to expand research around this topic.

H.R. 1676 was co-authored by Congressman Tom Reed and Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter. It is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and other organizations representing patients, providers, and health systems. The bill has also been cosponsored by 281 bipartisan Members of Congress.

“Most of us, sadly, have known a loved one who has faced a serious or life-threatening illness, and we know too well the confusion and stress those situations bring,” Engel said. “This bill will help us ensure there is a well-trained palliative and hospice care workforce available to care for patients and bring needed relief to families.”
“I care about ensuring there is a trained workforce capable of meeting the demands for new models of healthcare delivery, and I am happy to see this legislation gain traction,” Reed said. “Hospice and palliative care provide significant health cost savings while improving the quality of life for the seriously ill.”

“As a pharmacist for more than 30 years, I served as a pharmacy consultant for hospice care,” said Carter. “I saw firsthand the important impact that proper palliative care can have on patients and families going through incredibly difficult end of life decisions. This legislation ensures that there is a well-trained palliative care workforce available and ready for those individuals with serious illnesses and I am very glad this legislation was approved by our subcommittee today.”

“For millions of cancer patients and their families, palliative care can play an essential role in improving their quality of life throughout treatment and survivorship,” said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) president Chris Hansen. “Today’s markup of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act is an important step forward in advancing access to palliative care services and we commend Representatives Engel, Reed and Carter for their steadfast commitment to this cause.  Expanding access to supportive care that treats the whole patient, not just their disease, is crucial for cancer patients, survivors and their families.”

Engel Lambastes Supreme Court Decision Undermining the Right of Workers to Organize

  “The Supreme Court’s outrageous 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME is yet another harsh partisan blow to the working families of New York and this nation. The Court’s ruling bars public sector unions from charging fees to all public employees who benefit from their efforts to negotiate for better pay, better benefits, and better working conditions. 

“As a former member of the teachers union, I find today’s ruling particularly distasteful.  The Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned four decades of legal precedent to undermine the ability of public service workers to negotiate for decent pay and fair workplaces.  This ruling is an outright attack on the public employees who educate our kids, keep our streets safe, fight fires, and rush to our aid when we have an accident.

“Now, thanks to this latest blow from SCOTUS, those of us who proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with labor must redouble our efforts. I will continue fighting for the rights of all workers to bargain collectively for better pay and benefits and safe work environments.  Unions remain the most effective vehicle for working people to secure their rights and freedoms, and they provide a pathway to the middle-class. We need to make sure that pathway remains opens. ”

Engel Statement on the Retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy

   “Justice Anthony Kennedy has served on the United States Supreme Court for thirty years and though I have often disagreed with him, he has sometimes been an important check on many of the far-right voices on the court. He provided critical opinions in cases that helped move our country forward, including Obergefell v. Hodges that established marriage equality and Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that reaffirmed a women’s right to choose.

“The consequences of Justice Kennedy’s retirement cannot be overstated. The next Supreme Court Justice will be responsible for upholding fundamental rights for women, LGBTQ individuals, workers, and people of color. Given President Trump’s vigorous and consistent assault on the courts and the rule of Law, it is imperative that the next Justice be a defender of our Constitution and American values, not a hyper-partisan ideologue.

“I believe that the Senate should follow the precedent set by the Senate Majority Leader in 2016 and only consider a new Supreme Court nominee after the new Congress is seated.”

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