Expanding the Hospice and Palliative Care Workforce
As the population ages, the number of people living with serious, complex and chronic illness is increasing, bringing a similar rise in need -- and demand -- for palliative care. Unfortunately, the field of Hospice and Palliative Medicine has been unable to expand to meet patient and health system demand because of a significant workforce shortage of trained providers.
Policymakers can help build a health care workforce more closely aligned with the nation's evolving health care needs through efforts to close the large gap between the number of health care professionals with palliative care training and the number required to treat the expanding population of patients with serious illness or multiple chronic conditions, as well as payment reforms to ensure the viability of hospice and palliative medicine.
Education and Training
AAHPM believes that reforming the nation's graduate medical education (GME) system to support fellowship training in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and grow the HPM physician workforce is essential to meeting the "triple aim" of health care reform. Access the Academy's GME Policy Statement and Recommendations.
The Academy has also developed legislation to expand opportunities for interdisciplinary education and training in palliative care: the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA). The bill would create new education centers and establish academic career awards for the field. The measure would also implement an awareness campaign to inform patients and health professionals about the benefits of palliative care and hospice and the services available to support patients with serious or life-threatening illness, as well as direct funding towards palliative care research to strengthen clinical practice and health care delivery. Access a complete bill summary.
PCHETA was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 3119 on July 21, 2015, and in the U.S. Senate as S. 2748 on April 5, 2016. Both bills have gained strong bipartisan support. Take action through the action alert on AAHPM's Legislative Action Center to ask your elected representatives to cosponsor PCHETA.
AAHPM advocates for reimbursement mechanisms that will ensure the practice of hospice and palliative medicine is viable and appropriately recognized for the value it adds to care for patients with serious illness. Towards this end, the Academy has worked with other stakeholder medical specialty societies to advance new CPT® codes for advance care planning and chronic care management services.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing to adopt new service codes for advance care planning as part of the 2016 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The proposed rule was open for public comment through Sept. 8, 2015, and CMS will now finalize policies to take effect in 2016.