Key Findings

Access to palliative care depends upon hospital size, location, and whether it is nonprofit or forprofit.

  • Three-quarters of states now have an A or B.

    Three quarters of states now have a grade of A or B. The number of states with A grades (defined as more than 80% of the state’s hospitals reporting a palliative care team) increased to 21 from 17 in 2015 and 3 in 2008.

  • Tax status is a significant predictor of access to palliative care.

    Nonprofit hospitals are more likely than for-profit hospitals to provide palliative care.

  • Availability of palliative care varies widely by region.

    For example, in the south-central U.S., no state gained an A or B grade and less than one-third of hospitals in Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama reported a palliative care team. These south-central regions are most in need of improvement.

    In contrast, persons in the northeast and mountain regions have almost universal access to hospital palliative care. All hospitals in New Hampshire and Vermont report palliative care programs, as do 89% in Rhode Island and 88 percent in Massachusetts. Farther west, Montana, Nevada and Utah earned A grades with hospital palliative care rates of 100% 92%, and 85%, respectively.

  • Access to palliative care for people living in rural America remains limited.

    Ninety percent of hospitals with palliative care are in urban areas. Only 17% of rural hospitals with fifty or more beds report palliative care programs.

  • Ninety-four percent of hospitals with more than 300 beds now have a palliative care team.

    However, one-third of U.S. hospitals with fifty or more beds report no palliative care services, and one-third of the states received a grade of C or D.

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Inquiries about A State-by-State Report Card on Access to Palliative Care in Our Nation’s Hospitals should be directed to:

Rachael Heitner, MPH
Associate Director, Research and Insights
Center to Advance Palliative Care
[email protected]