Advocates call on lawmakers to expand palliative care

Advocates are urging lawmakers to back pieces of legislation that would expand and improve palliative care, the medical subspecialty focused on relieving the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness. 

More than three dozen caregivers, patients and advocates for people with serious illness held meetings Wednesday on Capitol Hill about two bipartisan proposals. 

One bill from Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google struggle to block terrorist content | Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in US | Company exposed phone location data | Apple starts paying back taxes to Ireland Firm exposes cell phone location data on US customers Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China MORE (D-Ore.) would increase the number of palliative care professionals through grants, contracts and education centers. The other from Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) would seek to raise awareness through a national summit and other efforts. 

Advocates affiliated with the Patient Quality of Life Coalition were quick to note that both measures are bipartisan. 

"Members of Congress are putting aside partisan politics to come together on an issue that has wide-reaching impact for all individuals battling a serious illness," said Dick Woodruff, vice president for federal relations at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. 

"We're hopeful that as more members of Congress learn about palliative care … they will make expanded access to this transformative type of healthcare a top priority." 

Republicans and Democrats have been able to work together on small healthcare bills this term despite widespread gridlock and rising election-year conflicts. 

Just Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved six bipartisan health bills related to trauma care, traumatic brain injuries and emergency services.
--This post has been corrected.