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 WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills Congressional leaders unite to fight for better future for America's children and families McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug bill 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.