End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Putting Patients Firstby Sonja

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Patient care and healthcare should be synonymous — right?

At Compassion & Choices, we believe that healthcare should be all about patient care, especially at the end of life. But too often, policy debates on care at life’s end focus on everything but the patient.

How is it possible to leave patients behind?

Just look at the healthcare insurance reform debate. Right now, as administrators in Washington, D.C., hammer out the new law’s implementation details, insurance industry executives and lobbyists push to make sure their interests come first. That’s why Congress focuses so much attention on who gets reimbursed for what and how, which federal agency oversees which part of the act, and what each section of the bill means for the industry.

Few people and organizations ask, “How can we make sure patients get what they want and need?” And even fewer advocates work to make sure that patients’ wishes are honored at the end of life.

Time and again, we see the focus shift from patients to process when care at the end of life is legislated and regulated.

Watch this short video to see what I mean. It’s from “Living Well at the End of Life,” a National Journal panel discussion I recently joined in Washington.

Compassion & Choices has renewed its commitment to work for healthcare policy that is centered on patients, not process. I’m thrilled to announce that we now have a Washington, D.C., policy office to amplify our voices in the Capital — the voices of our supporters, patients and families.

Staff in our new Washington office will track legislation as it develops and educate Congress and regulators about end-of-life issues. Our priorities will be front and center during the debates that matter most. And we’ll make sure that patients aren’t forgotten when legislators discuss healthcare at the end of life.

This is a major step forward for Compassion & Choices and our movement. The debate over our issues will never be the same and I am very excited about this milestone.