By Khalid Pagan
C&C’s Chief Program Officer Kim Callinan
At our federal briefing last week, Compassion & Choices staff presented our federal policy agenda and our work on the state level to Congressional staff, Beltway thought-leaders and Washington-area supporters. The briefing was a huge success! If you couldn’t make it, click here to watch the full video of the briefing.
Kim Callinan, our Chief Program Officer, was the briefing moderator and she presented C&C’s federal policy agenda. Our speakers included Dan Diaz, Brittany Maynard’s husband, who has testified in favor of death-with-dignity laws in California, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts since Brittany passed last year. Charmaine Manansala, Compassion & Choices’ California Political Director, outlined the provisions in the California law, which was based on 17 years of success in Oregon. Dr. David Grube shared his experience as a family physician working in Oregon during the implementation of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, and C&C board member Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera shared his experience with outreach to the medical and faith communities.
Dr. David Grube and Charmaine Manansala
Our Federal Policy Agenda
You already know about our advocacy for state aid-in-dying laws, and now you can take a look at our newly-updated federal policy agenda.
The federal policy agenda calls on policymakers to improve end-of-life care through actions in five major areas. When followed, our agenda lays out a roadmap for achieving patient-centered, family-oriented care that is responsive to personal choices.
Our federal priorities range from changing the ways that doctors interact with their patients to engaging the public and the medical community to amend best-practices and training programs. Some highlights of our policy agenda include:
- Establishing payment for palliative care consultations and training so that we have a pool of providers with the experience necessary to ensure the patient’s values and choices are being met.
- Encouraging Congress and/or CMS to end reimbursement for unwanted medical treatment. Studies indicate that more than 25 million Americans have received unwanted medical treatment.
- Requiring electronic medical records to to include advance care planning information. Today, even if patients do have advanced directives, they are often undiscovered or even ignored by doctors.
- Allowing patients admittance into hospice while continuing attempts to cure their illnesses. Patients shouldn’t have to choose between palliative care and a chance to live longer.
We received some very encouraging news on the heels of our briefing- one of our policy agenda items was implemented! The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that regulates and coordinates Medicare and Medicaid payments, announced that it will allow reimbursement for doctors for advance end-of-life care planning conversation. CMS has also added Advanced Care Planning as an optional element (at the beneficiary’s discretion) to the Annual Wellness Visits. This new rule removes a barrier for doctors to initiate and engage in these conversations, a step in the right direction of normalizing end-of-life planning. But we still have a lot of work to do.
Dan Diaz and Dr. Ignacio Castuera
What You Can Do
Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have introduced the Care Planning Act, legislation which is designed to give people with serious illness the freedom to make more informed choices about their care, and the power to have those choices honored. Their bipartisan legislation would further efforts to strengthen end-of-life care by developing quality measures, promoting public and provider education, addressing the decision-making for people with serious illness throughout the process, and including adherence and portability measures to ensure that patients’ choices are honored.
We need you to write your Senator and ask them to co-sponsor the Care Planning Act. In addition to Senators Warner and Isakson, the bill currently has 4 bipartisan cosponsors: Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
Click here to write a letter to your senators and ask them to cosponsor The Care Planning Act of 2015. Make sure to include your personal story about your parents, grandparents, spouse, friend, or other loved one.