An Especially Active Legislative Session Inspires Hope
With bills in 18 states so far this year to either pass or improve laws concerning end-life care, Compassion & Choices is making encouraging progress nationwide.
Mar 28, 2023
This legislative session, the impact of Compassion & Choices’ and Compassion & Choices Action Network’s robust advocacy work is resonating through capitol buildings and beyond, from coast to coast.. Thirteen states — Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Connecticut — aim to authorize medical aid in dying, or to at least inch closer to that goal. Six more states, where (after years of effort) the practice is already authorized, have introduced bills to improve their laws — for example, by reducing waiting periods, eliminating residency requirements or permitting physician assistants (PAs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to prescribe: Hawai’i, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Thanks to the focused work of our teams alongside our partners and allies, we already have great news to report in several states. Just last week, the Washington House approved SB 5179, a bill to improve access to the Washington Death with Dignity Act, by a vote of 53 to 43. This will remove barriers to accessing the Act by allowing APRNs and PAs to serve as attending or consulting providers, reducing the waiting period between oral requests for medication to seven days, and allowing medications to be shipped by mail or courier. This is the culmination of several years of work by both Compassion & Choices and End of Life Washington. The bill now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature, and we expect he will sign it into law soon.
In Montana, where medical aid in dying has been authorized since Compassion & Choices successfully litigated a State Supreme Court case in 2009, we have fought back continuous efforts by dogmatic lawmakers to criminalize the practice. Our opponents have gone so far as to threaten doctors who prescribe medical aid in dying with accusations of homicide, potentially leading to imprisonment or even capital punishment. This act (which we dubbed the “Physician Imprisonment Act”) was almost certain to be passed by a Legislature that had been openly antagonistic to our cause. However, against slimmer odds than ever before, we prevailed by flipping several votes at the last minute, keeping the state’s much-celebrated law intact for now.
New Mexico lawmakers voted unanimously to clarify several details in the state’s medical-aid-in-dying law. The bill is on its way to be signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The state also has approved the use of Medicaid funds to cover the cost of aid-in-dying prescriptions and is creating a system to reimburse providers; participating compound pharmacies now can direct-bill Medicaid for the medications. Since 34% of New Mexicans are enrolled in Medicaid, this will go far to help address end-of-life care inequities in that state.
Keep up with daily developments on these bills and more on our state advocacy pages.