Fixing the Flaws in Palliative Care Laws

August 25, 2022

State laws passed during the last 10 years to promote palliative care have had little impact to date, according to sources interviewed by Hospice News.

As they battle persistent misconceptions about their work, hospice and palliative providers must take every opportunity to make themselves heard, with every ounce of support they can get from lawmakers and others who are in a position to move policy forward. This is essential to their organizational growth and to getting suffering patients the care they need.

Challenges that need to be addressed  include rising expenses, the effects of the pandemic, the magnitude of the aging population, and the growing prevalence of diagnoses like dementia that the Medicare Hospice Benefit was not designed to support.

Addressing these challenges would require a years-long process, and the nation isn’t getting any younger. We have to start now. The population is aging now. Health care costs are weighing down our economy now. People are growing older and sicker now, and understaffed providers are caring for them on a shoestring. This is not sustainable.

“End-of-life care is the only topic in health care — maybe in all of life — that affects every single one of us and everyone we care about with 100% certainty,” Dr. Lachlan Forrow, co-founder of the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care, told Hospice News. “When it goes badly, it’s not just that the patient isn’t cared for and suffers, but family members are scarred and angry forever. When it goes well, then people can have some of the absolutely most precious times they’ve ever had in their life together.”

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