End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Posts TaggedNational Journal

New Poll: Oregon and Washington Residents Lead Nation on Informed Choice at the End of Life

National Journal-Regence Poll:
Over 70% OR and WA Voters Support Death With Dignity Acts

Compassion & Choices (C&C), the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit advocating for
better end-of-life care and choices today responded to the recent poll “Living Well at
the End of Life,” conducted by The National Journal and Regence Foundation. The poll
reaffirms that Washingtonians and Oregonians prefer to enhance the quality of their life
when faced with a serious illness, rather than extending their lives with every possible
medical intervention. Public opinion research has consistently found that Americans
want terminally ill individuals to have the right to make their own informed choices at
the end of life.

“The vast majority of Americans want to know about their end-of-life choices, and it’s
no accident that Oregon and Washington are way ahead of the rest of the country,” said
Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices. “The poll demonstrates that
Oregon and Washington, the two states with voter-enacted Death With Dignity laws,
lead the nation in communication and informed choice at the end of life. Aid in dying
has driven a conversation about end-of-life choices that has informed healthcare
recipients and improved outcomes for peaceful dying and uncomplicated grieving. .
Opponents claim aid in dying undermines other options, but the poll proves the
opposite. Informed patients, empowered with a range of end-of-life options, can
navigate the end of their lives according to their own values and beliefs.”

The poll compared responses from Oregon and Washington voters to national results.
On every question, Oregon and Washington voters far outpaced the nation in their
knowledge of end-of-life care and options. They also chose quality over quantity at the
end of life.

Below are some excerpts from the recent poll of 600 registered voters each in both
Oregon and Washington.

Now, thinking about these issues from a different perspective… I’m going to read you
the names of some different policies in (Oregon/Washington) and first please tell me if
you’ve heard of it, then please tell me if you have a favorable or unfavorable impression
of it.

33. The (next/first) one is the Death with Dignity Act…The Death with Dignity Act was
(approved by Oregon voters in 1994 and reaffirmed in 1997 / approved by Washington
voters in 2008). This act allows doctors to prescribe medicine for some of the most
seriously ill patients to take in order to voluntarily bring about their own death.
Now that you’ve heard some more information, do you generally have a favorable or
unfavorable opinion of this program? [IF FAVORABLE/UNFAVORABLE, ASKED:] Do you have a VERY (favorable/unfavorable) or a
SOMEWHAT(favorable/unfavorable) impression of The Death With Dignity Act?
OR WA
52% 44% Very Favorable
26% 25% Somewhat Favorable
7% 11% Somewhat Unfavorable
13% 16% Very Unfavorable
77% 70% TOTAL FAVORABLE

To view the poll’s topline results, click here: Living Well at the End of Life Poll-Topline Results.

Putting Patients First

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.