At the most recent luncheon hosted by Compassion & Choices and our co-collaborators in the Campaign to End Unwanted Medical Treatment, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) spoke movingly about an experience that is familiar to too many: the difficulties that he and his family faced when called upon to make decisions about his mother’s end-of-life care. After she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Warner’s father and sister cared for her at home until the final year of her life. The family had never discussed her end-of-life preferences, so it was difficult to determine what she would have really wanted.
More than 25 million Americans endure unwanted medical treatment, in part due to lack of communication. Sen. Warner believes people need to start having end-of-life conversations in every community, worship hall and medical facility in the country. He emphasized the importance of initiating these discussions with loved ones.
To reduce the agonizing scenarios like his family experienced, Warner and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have introduced the Care Planning Act, a bill that creates a Medicare benefit for people facing serious illness to work with their doctor to define and record their end-of-life healthcare preferences. The bill also rewards doctors for participating in end-of-life discussions before a medical crisis and would fund a program that measures how closely healthcare providers follow a patient’s documented care plan.
“This is about respecting what our parents, our grandparents, or ourselves want,” Warner said.
Help Sen. Warner get the Care Planning Act of 2015 passed! Click here to write a letter to your senators asking them to cosponsor the bill. Make sure to include a personal story about why this legislation is important to you.