The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R. 1676), legislation authored by Congressman Eliot L. Engel, passed the full House of Representatives today. It now awaits consideration by the Senate. The bill expands opportunities for training in palliative and hospice care and also seeks to better educate patients, families and health professionals about palliative care’s benefits. In addition, the legislation encourages the National Institutes of Health to expand research around this topic.
Congressman Engel offered the following remarks on the House floor in support of H.R. 1676 (as prepared for delivery):
Mr. Speaker: I am proud to be the sponsor of H.R. 1676, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, and I urge my colleagues to support this important bill.
The goal of palliative care is to alleviate suffering for patients and their loved ones, accompanying efforts to treat or cure illness.
It entails support from a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, physician assistants, chaplains, and other specialists who provide an extra layer of assistance, including help with medical decision-making and coordination of care across multiple settings. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness.
Palliative and hospice care have been associated with enhanced quality of life for patients – but too many people don’t know about these benefits. On top of that, there is a shortage of educated providers who can offer quality palliative and hospice care.
That’s where this bill comes in.
The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act addresses these issues by expanding opportunities for training in palliative and hospice care.
This bill also aims to better educate patients, families and health professionals about palliative care’s benefits, and encourages NIH to expand research around this topic.
Ultimately, this bill will help us ensure there is a well-trained palliative care workforce available to care for patients – a goal that, I believe, will also be critical to turning the tide of the ongoing opioid epidemic.
One of the goals of palliative care is to provide relief from the pain of a serious illness. By creating the infrastructure needed to better educate health professionals on palliative care, this legislation will also help ensure health professionals are able to properly manage patients’ pain and practice appropriate, evidence-based prescribing – a space where, as the opioid crisis has shown, we need to do much better.
I want to thank Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Pallone, Chairman Burgess and Ranking Member Green for helping to move this bill forward. I also want to thank Congressman Tom Reed and Congressman Buddy Carter, who co-authored this bill, and all of its 285 bipartisan cosponsors.
I think every one of us has felt the pain and stress of a serious illness, either personally or standing alongside a loved one. By passing this bill, we’ll take an important step to bring much, much needed relief to both patients and their loved ones.
I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I yield back the balance of my time.