Protect terminally ill patients: Submit a comment by 3/31!

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Compassion & Choices advocated for legislative and regulatory changes so that telehealth would be allowed for common end-of-life care services. People at the end of life have greatly benefitted from receiving end-of-life care services via telemedicine.

However, with the end-of-the public health emergency, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently proposed a rule that puts terminally ill patients at risk for added suffering. The proposed rule would ban medical practitioners from prescribing controlled medications via telemedicine if they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation beforehand. (Medical practitioners include physicians, as well as physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses, in states where they are authorized to prescribe medications.) This proposed rule would make accessing care more challenging for everyone, especially for hundreds of thousands of homebound, terminally ill patients.

Why the proposed rule is harmful:

  • Telemedicine relieves patients of the burdens of traveling with terminal illness and allows medical practitioners to be available to more patients who need their services.

  • Roughly 1.5 million Americans are homebound seniors who either benefit from receiving prescriptions via telemedicine or could benefit from telemedicine through a reduction in barriers to access it. 

  • Homebound patients are disproportionately Hispanic and Black non-Hispanic, medically and socially complex, and isolated. And their numbers are rising. 

What we are doing:

Compassion & Choices submitted a comment to the DEA advocating for an exemption for telemedicine services for people at the end of life. We also encouraged supporters and healthcare providers to let the DEA know that the proposed rule would lead to greater suffering for people at the end of life.

What you can do:

Submit a comment now to ask for an end-of-life exemption using the language below.

I am advocating to lessen suffering and continue care for patients at the end of life. The proposed rule would worsen their suffering and hinder access. The proposed rule does not adequately support patients at the end of life and will substantially reduce their ability to obtain essential medications.

Telemedicine relieves patients of the burdens of traveling with terminal and serious illness, and makes medical practitioners accessible to more patients who need their services. An exemption from the in-person exam requirement should be made available for people at the end of life.

Submit your comment