Revised Care Planning Act Introduced in the Senate
September 16, 2013 04:17 PM
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced the Care Planning Act of 2013 (S. 1439) on August 1, 2013. This proposal is one of several bipartisan bills relating to end-of-life care and hospice care introduced during this Congressional session.
S. 1439 creates a Medicare and Medicaid benefit that would pay for certain individuals to have conversations about end of life care. The new benefit would allow persons with a serious illness and their family members - if they desired - to meet with an interdisciplinary team that can include, based on the patient’s wishes, a doctor, nurse, social worker and a religious leader in a session to discuss the expected course of their disease, the pros and the cons of relevant treatments, and explanations of advance medical directives.
The Senators stress that the 2013 version of the legislation differs in several ways from the 2009 proposal that became labeled as “death panels.” The 2013 version targets only seriously ill individuals and is not focused on reducing health care spending but rather about allowing seriously ill individuals to be fully informed about their illness and options for care so that they can make informed decisions and have those decisions respected. The bill emphasizes the need for input from a patient’s religious counselor. It is estimated that six million Americans would meet the seriously ill criteria and be eligible for the proposed new benefit.
The Senators also indicated that they would like to see patients receive Medicare and Medicaid hospice care that does not require the patient to forgo “curative” treatments.
Currently, adult patients receiving hospice care through Medicare or Medicaid cannot receive it simultaneously with treatments to cure their illnesses. The bill also would set up a demonstration program in several sites around the country for some patients who would not currently qualify for home hospice benefits. These patients would have the option of receiving “wrap-around” hospice-type coverage including services such as home medical visits and treatment and caregiver relief as part of a trial project.
A Senior Navigation Advisory Board would be developed and would be comprised of a diverse range of individuals including faith leaders, health care professionals and patient advocates; the Board’s role would be to monitor and advise the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services throughout implementation of the Act.
The full text of the legislation, as well as additional relevant information, can be found here.