NASHVILLE – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) that creates a State Task Force on Palliative in Tennessee is set to be heard in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday after being approved by the Senate Government Operations Committee last week. Hensley said the purpose of the bill is to promote patient-centered and family-focused palliative care in the state.
Palliative care is an approach intended to improve the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing serious or life-threatening illnesses. It aims to prevent and relieve their suffering by means of early identification, impeccable assessment, and the treatment of their pain, physical, psychosocial, spiritual, and various other ailments.
Hensley said education on palliative care would play a key role in the task force’s work as the public needs to be armed with good information about what palliative care is and where they can find it.
“Palliative care is still a relatively new movement, considering the long history of healthcare and has been both misunderstood and under-utilized,” said Hensley, who is a physician. “The growing body of evidence shows that it improves quality of life so much that it reduces need for crisis hospitalizations, which are not only difficult for patients and families, but are by far the costliest setting for medical care.”
Over the last decade, a multitude of studies have shown the benefits of palliative care, including improved quality of life, reduced patient and caregiver burden, and an overall reduction in total health care costs.
Senate Bill 1170 creates a nine-member task force charged with consulting and advising the Department of Health on matters relative to the establishment, maintenance, operation, and outcome of palliative care initiatives. Currently, 16 states have laws establishing these Advisory Councils, and an additional seven states introduced comparable bills during their most recent legislative sessions.
“Much remains to be done to ensure that people with serious or life-limiting illness and their families have access to care that is rendered with compassion,” Hensley added. “My hope is that this task force will provide a roadmap for the delivery of high-quality patient and family-centered care that optimizes the quality of life for these patients.”