The Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA) passed the House of Representatives on Monday, October 28. H.R. 647 increases the education pipeline for trained palliative and hospice professionals by funding more permanent faculty and research in Palliative Care and Hospice. The bill also supports training centers and collaboration between multiple specialty training programs such as medicine, nursing, social work, physician assistant, chaplaincy, and pharmacy. In addition, it supports clinical training sites to provide training in inter-professional team-based palliative care.
The Coleman Foundation Funded Initiatives offer Models for PCHETA Regional Training Centers
The Coleman Palliative Medicine Training Program interdisciplinary training program addresses Chicago’s current shortage of trained supportive, palliative and hospice healthcare professionals. The initiative trains about 100 providers each year. The Coleman Supportive Oncology Collaborative created video supportive cancer care training modules, which over 5,000 professionals took for free continuing medical education credit. Even better, is that the training, tools, practice models and resources created by these collaboratives has proven relevant and effective across community, academic, safety net, and public medical centers.
If Nothing is Done, Pending Workforce Valley
A Palliative Care workforce study published June 2019 by a Duke University team led by Anif Kamal, revealed an impending “workforce valley” with declining palliative care physician numbers that will not recover to the current level until 2045. A shortage of training programs, faculty, fellowship slots, and early retirement contribute to the declining number of providers. While provider shortages mount, the demand for palliative care is growing. Palliative care has proven to improve outcomes for the growing population living with serious illness. The study uses the same model to shows that if PCHETA passes, the workforce shortage is reversible and future demand can be met.
The PCHETA bill passed the House with bi-partisan support of 295 co-sponsors. It has been introduced in the Senate and has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. So far, SB 2080 has 35 bi-partisan co-sponsors. Illinois Senators Durbin and Duckworth are both supportive. Its likely path to success in the Senate would be to become part of a larger workforce bill.
Several medical and patient advocacy organizations have been instrumental in advocating for PCHETA, including the American Cancer Society, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, The Alzheimer’s Foundation, and the National Patient Advocate Foundation and many more.
Together, Chicago area institutions working together through the Coleman Foundation Palliative Medicine Training and Supportive Oncology Collaborative initiatives are in a good position to lead and expand programs with federal PCHETA funding.