WHEREAS, during our lifetime, many of us will face life-threatening or life-altering illnesses or injuries, or perhaps we will watch those we love face them. We need a system in place that can provide support, guidance and direction to those who are facing these challenges. This system is called palliative care; and
WHEREAS, palliative care is a medical specialty that provides coordinated, comprehensive care to alleviate pain and suffering for anyone who is given a life-threatening or life-altering diagnosis; it is care to provide comfort and support for the patient and for the patient's loved ones. Palliative care differs from hospice in that one is not required to have a prognosis of six months or less, and curative treatment is allowed and provided; and
WHEREAS, palliative care, in practice, would be the medical equivalent of an Individualized Education Program (IEP); it could be considered an individual medical plan, for anyone with a serious or potentially serious medical diagnosis. Because seriously ill patients need a plan to help them locate appropriate services, provide the best treatment options and help them transition to the most appropriate environment, palliative care would help people navigate the system, as well as find pain relief, comfort and cure, if possible, right from the beginning. This care is routinely provided by a team that includes physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers and others who work together with a patient's own doctor to provide an extra layer of support for the patient and for the patient's loved ones. Although many institutions provide palliative care, it is still a relatively new specialty; it therefore might be necessary to ask for it; and
WHEREAS, in January 2009, palliative care was included as a covered benefit in the single-payer bill, H.R. 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not include it. Palliative care must be included in any bill that calls itself healthcare reform; and
WHEREAS, the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have a healthcare system; on the basis of equality, we must demand that quality healthcare be available to us all. Critically, chronically ill people just cannot wait:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will support efforts to include palliative care in an expansion of the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.