The Palliative Care Policy GPS

The Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy and the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) have launched an innovative new initiative — the Palliative Care Policy GPS (GPS) — a publicly accessible and regularly updated database that tracks state policies on palliative care and related services.

In recent years, state policymakers have increasingly paid more attention to palliative care, improving access and quality along the way. The importance of palliative care, which focuses on providing relief from symptoms and stress of serious illness to improve quality of life, and the need for innovative policymaking to support it, has become clearer over the past year and a half. But tracking developments in policies and regulations across states has been difficult. States maintain their own data on legislation and regulations, with no centralized platform bringing together information from across the country.

The GPS aims to fill this gap. It tracks policies related to palliative care across the 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Indian Health Service (IHS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and U.S. territories. By consolidating the landscape of state policymaking, the GPS offers a new tool for health care professionals, policymakers, palliative care champions, payers, and purchasers to search, compare, gain new ideas, and stay up-to-date on policy developments. The GPS has three primary aims:

  1. to provide a detailed and continuously updated database tracking palliative care policies
  2. to support cutting-edge research, including by students, on palliative care policy drawing on the information gathered
  3. to encourage policy innovation aimed at ameliorating disparities in access and quality.

The GPS will serve as a resource for palliative care advocates working with their own state policymakers to craft more effective laws bolstering the field. The GPS classifies palliative care legislation in seven core categories: workforce, payment, quality/standards, clinical skill-building, pediatric palliative care, public awareness, and telehealth. Legislation can be sorted by location, category, status, and timeframe. Users can assess legislative developments over time all in one place, encouraging the identification of trends, gaps, innovative policy initiatives, and best practices. These advancements could ameliorate disparities in access to high-quality palliative care, expand the palliative care workforce, drive essential skills across key clinicians, and increase public awareness of palliative care

Building a Coalition of Palliative Care Advocates

The GPS represents a unique partnership between a community of students and experts at Yale and beyond. The GPS marks a first-of-its-kind collaboration with CAPC, a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality health care for people living with a serious illness. CAPC is part of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. 

Yale Law School students have been centrally involved in the process of creating and maintaining the GPS. Over the 2020–2021 academic year, students provided vital contributions — ranging from conducting the initial surveys of all 50 states and related entities to successfully submitting articles and abstracts on the GPS and researching bills addressing palliative care across the country.

Scholarly collaboration has been essential in fostering the Solomon Center's palliative care initiatives. In fall 2020, the Solomon Center convened a working group comprising palliative care scholars, practitioners, and advocates from a variety of institutions. In addition to providing invaluable advice on the function and future of the GPS, the working group supports a range of research and writing from cutting-edge studies on palliative care to work that will translate findings into targeted policy recommendations.


Palliative Care GPS Working Group

The Solomon Center GPS Working Group is a multi-disciplinary collaboration focused on novel palliative care policy initiatives. The Working Group brings together scholars and practitioners from a variety of institutions and supports a wide range of research and writing: from cutting-edge studies on palliative care to work that will translate findings into targeted policy recommendations. The projects of the Working Group may take the form of white papers, model legislation, or other interventions promoting quality and access to care.

Founding Palliative Care GPS Team Members:

  • Shelli Feder, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, ACHPN: Assistant Professor in Nursing, Yale School of Nursing
  • Abbe R. Gluck, JD ('00): Alfred M. Rankin Professor of Law and the founding Faculty Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School; Professor of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
  • Karen Jubanyik, MD: Associative Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Director of the Emergency Medicine Clerkship, Yale School of Medicine
  • Nina Kohn, JD: David M. Levy L'48 Professor of Law and Faculty Director for Online Education, Syracuse University College of Law; Distinguished Scholar in Elder Law, Yale Law School
  • Suzanne Marmo-Roman, PhD: Assistant Professor of Social Work, Sacred Heart University
  • Eugene Rusyn, JD ('17): Editor-in-Chief of the Palliative Care Policy GPS
  • Dena Shulman-Green, PhD: Associate Professor, New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing

Palliative Care Medical-Legal Partnership

The Solomon Center also coordinates a Palliative Care Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) to provide civil legal services to palliative care and cancer patients at the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH). Students provide services within the health clinic setting, working closely with the social work team at Smilow to identify patients nearing the end of their life who need assistance to get their affairs in order. Under the supervision of Rebecca Iannantuoni, a partner at Day Pitney LLP, a Connecticut law firm that handles estate-planning matters,  students conduct intake interviews with clients and draft desired documents, such as wills, power-of-attorney agreements, and advanced health care directives, and they also work on real-estate transactions and guardianship issues.

For more on our Medical Legal Partnership program, see here.


Palliative Care Publications and Events

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