WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen, co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Comprehensive Care Caucus, announced the introduction of a pair of bipartisan bills to help increase the number of doctors trained in palliative care, and to improve hospice care for patients by increasing access to blood transfusions for those who rely on this care to maintain quality of life.
The Provider Training in Palliative Care Act, introduced with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), would allow National Health Service Corps participants to defer their service for up to a year to do additional training in palliative care, as long as they provide primary care during their service with the Corps. The Improving Access to Transfusion Care for Hospice Patients Act, introduced with Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), would carve out payment for transfusion services within the Medicare hospice benefit, billing Medicare for transfusion separately. This would improve access to hospice care for patients who rely on transfusion care to maintain quality of life.
“Having stepped away from my career to become a caregiver for my aging parents and in-laws, I understand the importance of giving families access to robust and affordable palliative and hospice care to look after loved ones,” said Senator Rosen. “These bipartisan bills will make palliative care more accessible and available.”
“This bipartisan effort will help to address workforce shortages in palliative care and will ensure that people living with serious illnesses receive the comprehensive care they deserve,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m glad to join Senator Rosen on this bill that would remove barriers to expand training opportunities and increase access to this critical care in underserved areas.”
“As a doctor and as a son, I have seen the benefits of hospice and palliative care firsthand. In these circumstances, personalized medical services can drastically improve the quality of life for hospice patients and their families,” said Senator Barrasso. “That is why I have supported legislation that will allow more patients access to the highest quality of end-of-life care. Our bipartisan bill will increase access to transfusion care for patients in Wyoming and across the country when they need it most.”
“Having served as my grandmother’s primary caregiver, I have seen firsthand the challenges that patients face when trying to access palliative care,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to join my Comprehensive Care Caucus colleagues in introducing legislation to reduce the financial barriers for hospice patients and ensure no person has to choose between getting the lifesaving transfusions they need to live or receiving comprehensive hospice care.”
Support for Provider in Training Palliative Care Act:
“Given the critical shortage of health professionals with expert knowledge and skills in palliative care, AAHPM offers its strong support for the Provider Training in Palliative Care Act, which would provide an important update to the National Health Service Corps program,” said Holly Yang, MD MSHPEd HMDC FACP FAAHPM, President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. “Allowing eligible individuals to postpone their service obligation to seek postgraduate training in palliative care will not only help ensure that we build a healthcare workforce more closely aligned with America’s evolving healthcare needs but build on a program which is vital to increasing access to care in rural and underserved areas. AAHPM applauds Senators Rosen and Murkowski for their leadership in advancing this legislation, which stands to complement other current efforts to expand palliative care education and training through program and faculty development.”
“The Provider Training in Palliative Care Act would allow for more healthcare professionals to receive training in the field of palliative medicine which is critical for the future success and longevity of the hospice community,” said Interim CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Ben Marcantonio. “Thank you, Senators Rosen and Murkowski for your support in ensuring the workforce of tomorrow through this impactful legislation.”
Support for Improving Access to Transfusion Care for Hospice Patients Act:
“Blood transfusions are a crucial palliative measure to improve the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses,” said Kate Fry, CEO of America’s Blood Centers. “It is imperative that patients have access to blood transfusions, while also being able to benefit from the comprehensive care provided under the Medicare hospice benefit. We thank Senators Rosen, Barasso, and Baldwin for introducing this important legislation to take a major step toward ensuring that all patients receive the best possible care.”
“We applaud Senators Rosen, Barrasso, and Baldwin for reintroducing the Improving Access to Transfusion Care for Hospice Patients Act,” said Robert A. Brodsky, MD, President of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), Director of Hematology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “This bill puts forth a payment model for blood transfusions to hospice patients insured under Medicare. ASH consistently acknowledges the necessity of transfusions for individuals with blood cancers to address palliative care needs such as breathlessness, bleeding, and profound fatigue. While Medicare hospice benefits cover pain management services, patients still face significant barriers to accessing desperately needed transfusions while in hospice. By reintroducing this bill, Senators Rosen, Barrasso, and Baldwin are making significant strides toward guaranteeing comprehensive palliative care for individuals with blood cancers.”
Senator Rosen has been leading the way on efforts to improve access, affordability, and outcomes of palliative and hospice care treatment for the patients and families who depend on it. Senator Rosen recently introduced the bipartisan Expanding Access to Palliative Care Act to provide comprehensive palliative care services much earlier in the course of illness, helping improve both the quality of care for patients and their families and the outcomes of treatment. She also previously led a bipartisan letter with her colleagues urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to support concurrent palliative and curative treatment for beneficiaries with serious illness or injury that was based on the legislation.