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Palliative care legislation now law in West Virginia

Representatives of The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Cancer Society, AARP WV and others watch as Governor Jim Justice signs the palliative care bill and signs a Colorectal Cancer Awareness proclamation. Courtesy photo.

Release from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: 

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the American Cancer Society (Society) commend the West Virginia legislature and Governor for improving the quality of life of cancer patients and their families through palliative care and the recognition of colorectal cancer awareness.

Governor Jim Justice recently signed palliative care legislation into law. The Governor also signed a proclamation recognizing March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“ACS CAN is proud to have worked with Delegate Amy Summers who sponsored the palliative care legislation and with AARP and other key partners tolead the effort to pass this legislation in West Virginia,” said Juliana Frederick Curry, West Virginia government relations director for ACS CAN.“This legislation will improve patient quality of life and improve health outcomes.”

“Through her firsthand experience as a nurse, Del. Summers saw the benefits of an effective palliative care program.After going through cancer herself and seeing what other patients go through including her brother, she introduced palliative care legislation in January of 2018,” Curry said.

Del. Summers’s legislation seeks to establish a palliative care advisory coalition, which would bring together experts to address barriers to this option and identify innovative solutions for West Virginians. This council would emphasize provider training, patient awareness and overall access to palliative care.

Juliana Frederick Curry, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, testifies about palliative care during the 2018 legislative session. WVPA file photo.

The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and their family. It is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work with the patient’s primary care physician and other physicians providing disease treatment to deliver an extra layer of support.  It is appropriate at any age and at any stage of serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment to help patients get well faster and easier.

Research indicates that palliative care systems improve health outcomes while reducing health care costs. Studies have shown coordinating patient care and treating pain and symptoms leads to increased patient and family satisfaction and decreases the time spent in intensive care units and the likelihood patients will be readmitted to hospitals.

The goal of the Society’s 80% by 2018 campaign is to increase colon cancer screening to 80 percent. Increasing screening rates to 80 percent would prevent 277,000 new cases of colon cancerand 203,000 deaths within 20 years. The Society recommends colon cancer screening begin at age 50 for people at average risk. People with certain risk factors, such as family history, should talk to their provider about screening earlier and more often, because they are more likely to develop colon cancer or get it at an earlier age.

“This year alone, 12,110 West Virginians will hear the words ‘you have cancer.’ Today the Governor took steps to help prevent cancer and to make life a little better for those that do receive a cancer diagnosis,” Curry said.


ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.






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