WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Deb Fischer (R-NE), co-founders of the Senate Comprehensive Care Caucus, are leading a bipartisan group of colleagues in a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure requesting that CMS’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation support concurrent palliative and curative treatment for beneficiaries with serious illness or injury.

“Studies have shown the critical importance of palliative care, which looks at the patient as a whole and addresses quality of life, symptom management, and supports for both the patient and their caregivers,” wrote the Senators. “It not only yields better health and quality of life outcomes, but can also decrease stress for the entire family.  This type of compassionate, comprehensive care integrates clinical and community-based services, improves care coordination, uses an interdisciplinary team to focus on patient-centered care, and reduces discomfort and disability.”

“Allowing palliative care to be provided wherever the patient is located—be it at home, at a caregiver’s home, in the hospital, in a nursing or assisted living facility, or through telemedicine—is critical for both the appropriateness and quality of care for the patient and also to ensure effective and efficient use of health care facilities and avoidance of unnecessary visits to inpatient settings,” the Senators continued.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

“VITAS Healthcare applauds the leadership of Senators Rosen and Barrasso for supporting a community-based palliative care demonstration that will allow access to services for people with serious illness,” said Nick Westfall, President and CEO, VITAS Healthcare. “More than 35 years ago, the hospice Medicare benefit was enacted and has been instrumental in improving quality of life for patients. We stand ready to build upon this proven framework to serve more of our nation’s seriously ill patients, at home, without unnecessary, high-cost transitions, so patients and their families can focus on what really matters.”

“Americans enrolled in Medicare should have the option to access integrated, interdisciplinary, patient-centered, goal-oriented care for serious illness. Several Senators this week called on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to test a model for providing that option through a Community-Based Palliative Care demonstration project,” Edo Banach, President & CEO of the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization and President of the Hospice Action Network. “We thank them for their leadership, particularly Sen. Jacky Rosen and Sen. John Barrasso, who spearheaded the letter. For more than 40 years, we have seen this type of care approach deliver high-quality care at the end of life. It’s time to bring that model earlier in the care continuum with palliative care delivered when and where the patient needs it.”

Senator Rosen has been a leader in palliative care issues. This letter is based on her bipartisan Expanding Access to Palliative Care Act, which would direct CMS to conduct a demonstration project integrating palliative and curative care. She also  introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to expand access to palliative care in underserved areas. Senator Rosen has also introduced the bipartisan Improving Access to Transfusion Care for Hospice Act with Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to help more patients who rely on transfusions to access hospice care.