Disparities in Palliative Care

February 4, 2021

Palliative care is coordinated patient care that treats the patient as well as the disease.  It provides cancer patients and their caregivers an extra layer of support, making available a team of experts focused on relieving pain, managing emotional stress and offering other supportive services. This care improves quality of life for cancer patients and cancer survivors, saving lives and reducing health care costs.

Patient access to palliative care has increased significantly in the last 20 years, but this access is still not universal. Disparities – particularly along racial and ethnic lines – continue to impact access to and use of palliative care. Several factors contribute to whether a patient can receive palliative care:


ACS CAN believes palliative care services should be available to all cancer patients and any barriers to care eliminated. We work to increase patient access to palliative care through federal and state policy change, including:

  • Growing the palliative care workforce through creating more career opportunities for providers who want to enter the specialty, training more healthcare professionals in basic palliative care principles and skills, and educating primary care-focused providers on when and how to refer to palliative care.
  • Creating more public awareness around what palliative care is, how it can help patients, and how all patients can access it.
  • Focusing research on eliminating disparities and improving care, treatment, and quality of life for patients with serious illness.
  • Improving public and private insurance coverage of palliative care.


At the federal level, ACS CAN strongly supports the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, which will increase education, awareness and research regarding palliative care.