Two Care Dimensions staffers joined hospice advocates from across the country to urge members of Congress to support legislation that seeks to increase access to hospice and palliative care for Medicare beneficiaries.
Florence Exantus, clinical director, and Patty Ramsden, director of admissions, represented Care Dimensions as part of the Massachusetts contingent that attended the Hospice Action Network’s two-day Advocacy Intensive in Washington, D.C., July 17-18. They and other hospice representatives met with staffers for members of Congress to educate them about hospice and urge support of three bills:
- The Patient Choice and Quality Care Act (S. 1334/H.R. 2797) would ensure that patients with serious and advanced illnesses are empowered to make informed health care decisions and can access palliative and supportive services that would improve their quality of life.
- The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (S. 695/H.R. 1676) would help address the shortage of adequately trained hospice or palliative care providers. Hospice and palliative care physicians would train teams of interdisciplinary health care professionals in hospice and palliative care techniques.
- The Rural Access to Hospice Act (S. 980/H.R. 1828) would correct a glitch in the current law that prohibits Rural and Federally Qualified Health Clinicians from serving as their patients’ hospice attending physician. In rural areas, this is a significant barrier to hospice care.
Exantus and Ramsden joined other hospice advocates in small-group meetings to inform legislative aides about the benefits of hospice and palliative care. Ramsden met with aides to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the following representatives from Massachusetts: Joseph P. Kennedy, III; James McGovern; Seth Moulton; and Niki Tsongas. Exantus was paired with the executive director of the New Hampshire Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, and met with aides to members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation.
“As a hospice nurse, I have always believed that team collaboration is important for positive outcomes and patient satisfaction,” said Exantus. “After attending the Advocacy Intensive, I realized that collaboration is not just about the interdisciplinary team, but it is also about working with Congress to ensure that patients with life-limiting conditions receive the services that they need,” she added.
Although the meetings in Washington are over, you can still make a difference. Share your support for hospice and palliative care with your representative or senator by participating in the Hospice Action Network’s Virtual Hill Week 2017.