NHPCO Endorses Legislation to Help Address Workforce Challenges in Hospice and Palliative Care
For Immediate Release:
November 30, 2021
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act and the Provider Training in Palliative Care Act Both Help Build the Cadre of Knowledgeable Doctors and Nurses
(Alexandria, Va) – The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) today announced its endorsement of two important pieces of national legislation that will help address workforce challenges facing NHPCO members across the country. The announcement was made as a bookend to National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a month in which communities and leaders across the country honored the essential work of hospice and palliative care providers, including with a Resolution of the U.S. Senate.
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act
The first bill—a bipartisan, bicameral bill known as the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, introduced in the House of Representatives as H.R. 2255 and in the Senate as S. 1024—will help address a shortage of doctors and nurses in the United States, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will “recapture” unused work visas, enabling up to 25,000 nurses and up to 15,000 doctors to apply for visas. Congress annually authorizes thousands of visas for USCIS to admit foreign nationals to work in the United States and eventually pursue citizenship. Each year, unused visas are wasted, and since 1992 there have been more than 200,000 such wasted visas. Under this legislation, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) could repurpose a fraction of those unused visas for nurses and doctors. The Senate bill is sponsored by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Susan Collins (R-ME), and the House bill is sponsored by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), and Don Bacon (R-NE).
The Provider Training in Palliative Care Act
The second piece of legislation is a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Tina Smith (D-MN). The Provider Training in Palliative Care Act (S. 2890) will leverage programs of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which provides tuition assistance and loan repayment options to medical students in exchange for them providing primary care services in underserved communities, in order to expand the number of doctors and nurses knowledgeable in palliative care. The bill will allow individuals enrolled in NHSC’s Scholarship Program or Loan Repayment Program to defer their obligated service in order to receive training in palliative care for up to a year, thus building a cadre of healthcare providers with a both palliative care and community service experience.
“Workforce challenges, including staff recruitment, retention, and satisfaction, are the number one issue facing hospice and palliative care providers across the country. While these challenges exist across all healthcare segments, the impacts are unique in hospice and palliative care settings, which are chronically underfunded,” said NHPCO President and CEO, Edo Banach. “With the advice of our Legislative Affairs Committee, NHPCO endorses the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act and the Provider Training in Palliative Care Act. These bills will represent a down payment toward building the staffing infrastructure necessary to ensure the U.S. can care for our seriously ill and for those who want patient-centered, interdisciplinary care at the end of life. Thank you to all the Representatives and Senators who have sponsored these bills. NHPCO looks forward to working with you to garner additional Congressional support and ensure passage of these important pieces of legislation.”
Take action: Congress is considering leaving town for Christmas without preventing massive cuts to Medicare. Call on your Member of Congress to stop these cuts to hospice now. Hospice Action Network’s legislative action center makes it easy. Visit https://www.hospiceactionnetwork.org/take-action/#/59