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Bill to Improve Supportive Patient Care Reintroduced

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Spencer Bachus (AL-6) today announced the reintroduction of bipartisan legislation intended to improve supportive care for patients diagnosed with cancer and other serious illnesses.

The Patient Centered Quality of Life Act (H.R. 1666) was formally introduced in the House for the 113th Congress today with Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5) as the lead Democratic sponsor and Congressman Bachus as the lead Republican sponsor. It is identical to legislation first introduced last Congress.

The bill is designed to enhance the awareness and coordination of palliative care, which helps patients with serious illnesses manage ongoing pain and other symptoms after their initial medical treatment. The University of Alabama at Birmingham has one of the leading palliative care programs in the nation. Congressman Bachus toured the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care last August.

Congressman Bachus said, "More people are living for longer periods of time after being treated for cancer and other serious illnesses. But there are often gaps in the follow-up care they receive. Through better awareness and coordination of services, we can help people more easily resume daily life after difficult medical treatments. We can also reduce fragmentation that raises costs in our health care system."

Congressman Cleaver said, "It can be a very confusing and emotionally exhausting time for loved ones as they try to care for chronically ill family members. Unfortunately, right now, those who need to focus on fighting their illness must also battle a deluge of confusing information, duplicative tests, and multiple doctors. Palliative care provides patients with a team of trained professionals to help them address their care and improve the quality of life."

The bill would specifically enhance the emphasis on palliative care training and education at federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, and National Institutes of Health and authorize planning for a national summit on palliative care.

The American Cancer Society has endorsed the bill.

"This legislation launches a national effort to improve the fragmented care that people with cancer and other serious diseases often receive and ensure a seamless experience delivered by doctors and nurses in a team-based approach that treats a patient's pain and other symptoms along with the disease itself. With access to palliative care, patients' quality of life is improved from the point of diagnosis and during treatment and follow up care," said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Action Network (ACS CAN).

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