CoC Source
April 30, 2013
Advocacy Update
Stakeholders Discuss Patient Quality of Life and Palliative Care at April Meeting

On Wednesday, April 3, more than 40 groups gathered in Washington, DC, to discuss potential Congressional and Executive action on patient quality of life and palliative care. The meeting, hosted by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), convened representatives from organizations across the health care spectrum, among them providers, advocacy groups, associations, researchers, and foundations. Dan Smith, former Staff Director of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and current principal at the Sheridan Group in Washington, DC, facilitated the discussion, as the group identified specific and concrete policy changes that will expand access to quality palliative care for every individual who needs it and across all health care settings.

While public awareness and policy around palliative care have advanced significantly over the past decade, the delivery of quality palliative care still faces significant barriers, including a lack of large-scale research on quality of care and cost-effectiveness, limited professional development opportunities, and inadequate reimbursement policies. Participants spoke candidly at the meeting about the potential to break down these barriers. By the end of the meeting, the group reached consensus on specific avenues for federal action that could substantially advance palliative care policy for the coming decade.

As millions of Americans face increasingly complex and challenging decisions over their own health care and care for their loved ones, the need for access to quality palliative care is growing exponentially. This meeting was an important step forward for a community that has been trailblazing palliative care in the American health care system for decades. As Dick Woodruff of ACS CAN expressed after the conversation, “There was real energy in the room and a feeling of momentum going forward. Working together, this high-powered group has the potential to transform the way we deliver health care for millions of patients by giving them better care and better choices.” Many in the group expressed eagerness to continue collaboration on this issue and advance plans currently in development.

 

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