On July 23, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA) (H.R. 1676). This act moves to enhance and expand advanced illness care through strengthening provider training and public outreach programs. Initially introduced by Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), and Buddy Carter (R-GA) in March of last year, PCHETA ultimately garnered 285 bipartisan co-sponsors before being passed by a voice vote this week.

PCHETA requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support palliative care and hospice education centers that will be responsible for improving the training of interdisciplinary health professionals in palliative care. The legislation also directs HHS to award grants or contracts to medical schools, teaching hospitals and graduate medical education programs to help fund the training of physicians who intend to teach palliative medicine. 

By calling for the establishment of fellowship programs, PCHETA promotes the career development of interdisciplinary health professionals so they can pursue jobs in hospice or palliative care. The bill also encourages the creation of a national awareness campaign to educate the American public about the benefits of palliative and hospice care.

Multiple lawmakers expressed their support for the bill prior to the full chamber vote— both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Health Subcommittee unanimously advanced the legislation in June. A similar piece of legislation in the Senate (S. 693) already has the support of more than 30 senators from both sides of the aisle.

NPHI supports PCHETA and believes the bill will help in facilitating the growth of an adequately trained hospice and palliative care workforce and provide support to the training programs that our members are running. We hope this momentum continues as PCHETA heads to the Senate for consideration.