The Inside Scoop: Federal Policy on Advanced Illness and End-of-Life Care | Compassion & Choices

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The Inside Scoop: Federal Policy on Advanced Illness and End-of-Life Care

In 2015, our nation saw progress on the federal policy front as it relates to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life for the first time in years. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a new regulation that allows doctors to be paid to have conversations with their patients about their values and priorities at the end of life.  

This action demonstrates that as a nation, we are now more willing to honestly talk about and address important end-of-life issues.

The federal policy team at Compassion & Choices is committed to keeping interested supporters up to date on what is happening on the federal policy front as it relates to end-of-life care and choice.  This blog represents the inaugural issue of a regular series, The Inside Scoop: Federal Policy on Advanced Illness and End-of-Life Choice. If you would like to stay current on federal issues, please:

  • Follow Kim Callinan and Mark Dann on Twitter to get an insider’s look at  what is happening inside the Beltway to improve end-of-life care

To help you start this year off in the know, we prepared this summary of pending legislation on the Hill that we are tracking. They are all bipartisan bills. 

Enhancing Clinician-Patient Communication and Advance Care Planning:

  • Care Planning Act – S.1549
    The Act creates a Medicare benefit for patient-centered care planning for people with serious illness. It will reimburse a team of healthcare professionals for advanced care planning.  The plan would reflect the informed choices made by patients in consultation with their health care team, faith leaders, family members and friends. The Act provides resources for public and professional education materials about care planning. It provides clear rules on developing systems for advance directives to be included in the electronic medical records.  
  • The Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act – (S.2297 and H.R. 4059)
    Medicare beneficiaries would be able to voluntarily certify to CMS they have created an electronic advance directive at any time. It would allow Medicare providers and health care proxies to have real-time, digital access to beneficiaries’ advance directives with appropriate privacy protections and consumer safeguards. Beneficiaries would receive a small, one-time incentive of $75 for registering an electronic advance directive.  

Improving End-of-Life Professional Education and Development

  • Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) – H.R.3119 
    This bill increases the number of permanent faculty in palliative care at medical training schools, colleges and universities. It establishes education centers and career incentive awards to improve the training of doctors, nurses, physician assistants, social workers and other health professionals in palliative care.   

Strengthening the Delivery of Person-Centered Family-Oriented Care

  • Hospice CARE Act – H.R.2208
    This allows medical professionals to conduct face-to-face encounters with patients to determine continued eligibility for hospice care before the first 60-day (currently 180-day) recertification period and each subsequent recertification. The act involves medical professionals more in the certification of ongoing eligibility for hospice care and people are receiving care that is in line with their goals and values.

Stay tuned! We are in the process of analyzing this legislation to determine whether we will endorse. We also anticipate that more legislation will be introduced in 2016!  


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