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Congressman Cleaver Fights for Changes for Chronically Ill

Press Release

Location: Kansas City, MO

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II, has reintroduced the Patient Centered Quality Care for Life Act (HR 1666) to help those with chronic and serious illness in Missouri's Fifth District, and around the country, get better, clearer and more comprehensive health care. This bipartisan legislation focuses on making sure palliative care is available to patients and families facing serious or life threatening illness. It also provides assistance to improve workforce training for those caring for patients, as well as public education and advocacy, and research.

"It can be a very confusing and emotionally exhausting time for loved ones as they try to care for chronically ill family members," said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. "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 their quality of life."

Congressman Cleaver continues his efforts to reach across the aisle and work with all Members of Congress. Co-sponsoring this bill with him is Alabama's Republican Congressman Spencer Bachus.

"We know that more people are living for longer periods of time after being treated for cancer and other serious illnesses," said U.S. Representative Bachus. "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."

Palliative care is one of the fastest growing trends in health care, giving patients added support with specialists who can help navigate the medical landscape. Removing unnecessary stress and coordinating care for both the patient and the patient's family are top priorities of this legislation. It is legislation that is endorsed by the American Cancer Society.

"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," said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Action Network (ACS CAN). "With access to palliative care, patients' quality of life is improved from the point of diagnosis, during treatment, and follow up care."

The Patient Centered Quality Care for Life Act Would:

*Authorize a National Patient-Centered Care and Quality of Life Stakeholder Strategic Summit to analyze and identify strategy for improving the quality of life for the rapidly growing population of patients facing serious illness.

*Establish a Quality of Life Patient and Professional Awareness Initiative to educate patients about the health advantages of receiving patient centered palliative care and the services it provides.

*Establish a professional workforce initiative to train allied health professionals including nurses, nursing assistants, social workers and patient navigators to enhance symptom assessment and management, communications skills, coordinated care and other quality of life focused treatment for all clinical specialties.

*Direct the National Institutes of Health Director to expand and intensify national research programs in symptom management, palliative, psychosocial and survivorship care.

"Research tells us that palliative care works, giving patients a better chance of prolonging life and doing it in a cost-efficient and dignified way," said Representative Cleaver. "And our hearts tell us taking care of the ill and their families, in the best way possible, is the right thing to do."

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee and also serves as a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus.

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