Senators Introduce Compassionate Care Act to Improve End-of-Life Care
May 20, 2016 09:36 AM
United States Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) have introduced the Compassionate Care Act, legislation that would provide new federal resources to improve consumer and provider education with regards to end-of-life care, as well as support innovation and develop end-of-life quality measures for relevant provider settings. With the growing number of Medicare-eligible seniors, the senators said greater attention is needed to ensure individuals with advanced illness and their families receive the highest-quality end-of-life care. In a fact sheet about the legislation, the senators cited problematic statistics indicating the need for more focus on the issue: “Recent research shows that while 42% of individuals have had discussion on end-of-life issues, only 21% put their care directives in writing, and 90% said that their physician never asked about this issue. Furthermore, according to a recent poll conducted by The John A. Hartford Foundation, 46% of physicians reported frequently or sometimes feeling unsure of how to conduct advance care planning or end-of-life conversations. Additionally, less than 29% of the physicians surveyed had received any formal training on how to talk with patients and families about end-of-life care.”
The Compassionate Care Act would address these issues through the following three main elements of the legislation, as outlined in the fact sheet released by the senators:
Develops and implements a national public education campaign to raise awareness of palliative and hospice care and encourages individuals to engage with qualified health care professionals.
Requires development of core end-of-life quality measures across each relevant qualified health care provider setting.
Establishes a pilot program in advance care curricula that will allow qualified health care providers to further develop their skills on how to discuss and help patients and their loved ones with advance care planning, palliative care, medical and legal issues associated with this area, and specialized pediatric care; while also including training in cultural competency measures.
Supports the expansion and development of continuing education programs on advance care planning and end-of-life as well as create a public provider advance care planning website to provide access to critical resources and new developments in this area.
Establishes a demonstration project to reimburse eligible entities for costs associated with the use of telemedicine services to provide advance care planning.
Requires the Secretary to conduct a study on the establishment and implementation of a national uniform policy on advance directives.
Requires a GAO study and report on establishment of national advance directive registry.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice has endorsed the legislation. Other organizations supporting the legislation include: The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care; American Osteopathic Association; Elder Justice Coalition; American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging; National Partnership for Hospice Innovation; Visiting Nurse Associations of America; National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization; American Heart Association; CT State Department on Aging.
Stay tuned to NAHC Report for additional information about how advocates can demonstrate their support for this legislation.