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Hospice Palliative Care Leadership Conference Kicks Off with Focus on Healthcare Reform and the Release of New Pediatric Standards of Care

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Welcomes 1,600 Professionals to DC

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 1,600 hospice and palliative care leaders, managers and industry experts have gathered in Washington, DC this week, with issues involving healthcare reform a major topic of concern.

"Almost 30 percent of Medicare costs are for care provided during patients' last year of life, with an estimated 30 percent of that figure covering costs in the last month of life," said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. "We are raising awareness of the important role hospice and palliative care should play in current debates on healthcare reform."

While many people think of hospice care primarily for elderly persons at the end of life -- 66 percent of hospice patients are over the age of 75, reports NHPCO -- care for children and families facing serious illness and death also figured prominently at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's 24th Management and Leadership Conference. The group released its first set of national standards for pediatric palliative and hospice care at the opening plenary session at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel.

The Standards of Practice for Pediatric Palliative Care and Hospice was developed by NHPCO and members of the Children's Project for Palliative/Hospice Services. The goal is to help hospice and palliative care providers develop safe, effective, and high-quality programming for children and their families facing serious and life-limiting illness.

In conjunction with the release of its pediatric standards, NHPCO released and hospice care in America.

Plenary speakers at the conference included White House health reform "czar" Nancy-Ann Min DeParle and advocate and author Elizabeth Edwards. Edwards was presented with the NHPCO Person of the Year Award for her work as a fierce advocate for improved and accessible healthcare.

On Wednesday, more than 400 hospice advocates went to Capitol Hill and met with legislators to emphasize the need to protect hospice reimbursement and promote access to high-quality end-of-life care for all patients and family caregivers.

"We know that hospice gives Americans the care and support they want at the end of life, and we know that hospice provides cost savings to Medicare for each beneficiary that takes advantage of hospice care. Hospice is part of the solution for healthcare reform in this country," Schumacher noted.

Facts and figures on pediatric care and more information on the new pediatric standards is available at

NHPCO members may download the pediatric standards from the site free of charge. Others may purchase the pediatric standards from NHPCO's Marketplace at 1-800-646-6460.

Consumer information about hospice and palliative care is available at NHPCO's Caring Connections Web site,

NHPCO is the oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. NHPCO's mission is to lead and mobilize social change for improved care at the end of life.

    Jon Radulovic
    NHPCO, Vice President of Communications
    Ph: 703-837-3139
    Cell:  571-259-5026

SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
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