Policy Approaches to Improve Access to Palliative Care

Despite spending nearly 20% of GDP on healthcare annually, many U.S. patients with serious illness report unmanaged pain, unmet needs, inadequate care coordination and treatment that is inconsistent with their preferences. Palliative care has the potential to close this gap between the care patients want and the care they receive. But unequal access, disparate resources in the healthcare system and inadequate payment policies leave palliative care out of reach for many people living with chronic conditions and other serious illnesses who would benefit. 

Join the Schaeffer Center on February 24 for a discussion about how increased access to palliative care has the potential to improve the quality of life for patients and their families and increase the value of care provided. The experts will also discuss policy approaches to making palliative care accessible across healthcare settings and populations.

Event Date
Thursday, February 24, 2022
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific

Mireille Jacobson, PhD (moderator), is an applied micro-economist with a diverse portfolio of research united by an interest in understanding how health care policies affect well-being. Much of her work focuses on the supply-side of health care markets, analyzing (i) the effects of direct supply changes (e.g., hospital closures) on access to care and (ii) the impact of reimbursement policy on treatment and outcomes, specifically in the oncology market. Other work focuses on the demand side, assessing the risk-protective value of health insurance for consumers. Her current projects include analyses of (i) tradeoffs in covering near poor households with public insurance versus subsidies for the purchase of private health insurance, (ii) the impact of a transitional care pain management model on readmissions and health outcomes for opioid tolerant patients, and (iii) the anticipatory effects of gaining Medicare on the mental health of seniors. In addition to being an Associate Professor in the Davis School of Gerontology, she is the co-director of the program on aging at USC’s Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and a research associate in the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Dr. Jacobson holds a PhD (2001) and MA (1998) in Economics from Harvard University and was a NIMH Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Harvard Medical School in 2001-2002.

Shari Ling, MD, is the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Dr. Ling contributes her clinical expertise to the Agency as a geriatrician, gerontologist, internist and rheumatologist, supporting CMS actions to improve health outcomes for beneficiaries, families, and caregivers through the delivery of high quality, person-centered care across settings.  She currently steers CMS efforts to address the nation’s mental and behavioral health needs as leader of the CMS Behavioral Health Steering Committee, with a strong focus on care and services for people with behavioral health conditions, and mitigating barriers to equitable care. She also supports CMS efforts on special topics such as pain, dementia, and multiple chronic conditions, and improving quality in long-term care. Dr. Ling coordinates the work of the CMS medical officers and other clinicians.  She regularly provides mentoring to fellows, students, and others beginning their careers in health care.

Dr. Ling earned a Master’s in Gerontology from the University of Southern California, and MD degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. She performed postgraduate fellowships in rheumatology at Georgetown University Hospital and in Geriatric Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

R. Sean Morrison, MD, is the Ellen and Howard C. Katz Professor and Chair for the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai. He is also the Director of the Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute and the National Palliative Care Research Center, organizations devoted to improving care for persons with serious illness and their families and enhancing the knowledge base of palliative care in the United States. During 2009-2010, he served as President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 

Dr. Morrison is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine's 2010 PDIA National Leadership Award and the 2013 Excellence in Scientific Research Award, the American Geriatrics Society’s Outstanding Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award, and the American Cancer Society’s Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Award and Pathfinder in Palliative Care Award.  His current research focuses on improving the management of pain in older adults and on developing and evaluating models of palliative care delivery in hospitals and the community.

Dr. Morrison has received over fifty million dollars in research funding and published over 200 research articles. His work has appeared in all major peer-reviewed medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. He edited the first textbook on geriatric palliative care, recently edited a new textbook on evidence-based palliative care, and has contributed to more than 20 books on the subject of palliative care. As one of the leading figures in the field of palliative medicine, Dr. Morrison has appeared numerous times on television, radio, and in print, including ABC World News Tonight, CNN, MSNBC, BBC news, NPR’s “Marketplace", CBC’s "As It Happens”; and the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Guardian (UK), Globe and Mail (Canada).

Dr. Morrison received his BA from Brown University and his MD from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He completed his residency training at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center followed by fellowship training at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. He has been on the faculty of the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine and Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai since 1995.

Thomas Smith, MD, is a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, director of Palliative Medicine for Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Harry J. Duffey Family Professor of Palliative Care. 

He is a medical oncologist and a palliative care specialist with a lifelong interest in better symptom management, communication, and improving access to high quality affordable care. Dr. Smith began Johns Hopkins' hospital-wide palliative care consult service as well as an inpatient unit, and he is dedicated to accelerating palliative care research and education.

Dr. Smith is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and is listed among the top oncologists and palliative care specialists in the country. He has taught palliative concepts in more than a dozen countries and helped start over 100 new programs.

Dr. Smith received his MD from Yale Medical School and completed his residency at the University of Pennsylvania and a fellowship in oncology and hematology at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. He joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 2011.

USC Schaeffer Center Advisory Panel on Palliative  Care

To learn more about the USC Schaeffer Center Advisory Panel on Palliative  Care, read this recent Evidence Base post along with a viewpoint on this research agenda in JAMA Health Forum.