Proposal in Congress aims to strengthen hospice workforce amid staff burnout, shortages

WASHINGTON — Hospice and palliative care can offer patients and their families a compassionate option with a focus on the quality of life during a person’s final days.

But the industry is facing a worker shortage in the face of growing demand.

Now a bipartisan proposal in Congress dubbed the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA) has been reintroduced.

Sponsors of the bill point to data showing one-third of palliative care clinicians report being burned out.

The legislation would invest in training for hospice physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers.

“We’re really being asked to do more with less resources and that obviously puts more stress and more casework for all of our frontline workers,” said Logan Hoover, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “We want to make sure that we have a workforce that’s trained and available so that when a family makes a decision, when an individual makes a decision that they want to elect hospice, that they have a provider that’s available to reach them immediately.”

The bill would also create incentives for healthcare professionals to specifically focus on the hospice care field.

“The need for high-quality palliative and hospice care services — which are vital for patients and their families—continues to grow, making passage of our bill needed now more than ever,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), a sponsor of the bill.

“I’m proud to work on this bipartisan bill that will grow and sustain our palliative and hospice care workforce and in turn, improve the quality of life for the growing number of patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), also a sponsor of the bill.

The bill is bipartisan and has been reintroduced several times in previous years according to Capito’s office, but it hasn’t made it to a full vote in both chambers of Congress yet.

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