By Jacqueline M. Kocinski, MPP
“All seriously ill individuals and their families will have access to high-quality, evidence-based hospice and palliative care.” That statement is AAHPM’s “envisioned future” and serves as a guidepost for the organization’s strategic plan. Ensuring there is a sufficient number of healthcare professionals with appropriate training and skills is central to achieving that desired state. Accordingly the Academy has sought to document the hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) workforce shortage and address it from a number of fronts. Public policy advocacy continues to be key in these efforts.
Advancing the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) tops AAHPM’s federal legislative agenda, and support for this bill developed by the Academy has grown steadily. By the close of the 113th Congress, the legislation had attracted 170 bipartisan cosponsors in the US House of Representatives—a 335% increase in support over the previous Congress—and 24 cosponsors in the US Senate—a 300% gain. But, with a new Congress seated in 2015, the process of securing supporters starts from scratch. Academy leaders kicked off that process in October during AAHPM’s annual Capitol Hill Days. Select members of the AAHPM Board of Directors, Public Policy Committee, Regulatory Issues Advisory Group, and State Health Policy Issues Working Group, along with chairs of eight AAHPM special interest groups, met with more than 70 congressional offices to request support for PCHETA.