The Center Square | Maine

Bipartisan legislation designed to address the health care worker shortage

By Brent Addleman | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Improving health care options for Maine residents is the focus of a bill sponsored by the state’s independent senator.

The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, a bipartisan bill, is designed to solidify Maine’s workforce in healthcare amid a growing need for end-of-life services. The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

“Palliative and hospice care provides vital, personalized quality of life services for Maine people facing serious illnesses,” the veteran legislator, who caucuses with Democrats, said in a statement. “As the need for this care grows, it’s important that we continue to invest in the proper resources and workforce for the field. This bipartisan legislation will train more people to perform services for Maine people with life-threatening illnesses, help the workforce meet evolving needs, and provide much-needed support to families taking care of their loved ones.”

According to a release, the bill would support those living with terminal illnesses through investments in training, education, and research in specialized care. The legislation aims to bring more workers into the healthcare sector and widen efforts to retain workers amid a workforce shortfall in the field.

According to a release, palliative and hospice care are directed at relieving a patient’s suffering from illnesses and improving their overall quality of life. Studies have shown that care has enhanced the quality of life for patients and reduced hospital expenditures and hospital stays.

Kandyce Powell, executive director of the Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care, said “the health care system needs more clinicians” who are trained in “interdisciplinary, high quality, cost-effective” approaches to medicine.

According to a release, the legislation is designed to bolster the workforce and align it with the nation’s health care needs while improving the quality of life and care for those facing serious illness.

Under the bill, workforce training, education and awareness, and enhanced research will be used to address current needs.

The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.