Monday, June 22, 2015

No more death panels: Why #HPM needs to talk about legislation and policy

by Judy Thomas, JD

If you ever questioned whether legislation plays a critical role in palliative care and serious illness let me remind you of the year 2009, when “death panels” became a legislative myth so ubiquitous it warranted its own entry on Wikipedia, was recognized as the “Lie of the Year” by PolitiFact.com, and is now responsible for a handful of debunked rumors on Snopes (see this, and this, and this.)

As CEO of the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California—a leading champion of palliative care—I understand how crucial it is keep a finger on the pulse of policy and legislation. In California we led efforts to pass POLST legislation in 2008 (AB 3000—Wolk) and championed the establishment of a pilot palliative care benefit through Medi-Cal in 2014 (SB 1004—Hernandez).

CCCC’s legislative success is due to a combination of establishing and maintaining relationships with policymakers and their staff, keeping abreast of national palliative care initiatives, and forming partnerships with key organizations who help advance our mission.

Care Planning Act of 2015

Even though CCCC’s policy focus is in California, I always keep an eye on national legislation that might impact palliative medicine and serious illness.

Just last week a bill was announced in the Senate that we should all know about: The Care Planning Act of 2015 (S 1549). According to the bill language, S 1549 will:
Amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for advanced illness care coordination services for Medicare beneficiaries, and for other purposes.
The Care Planning Act would fund advance care planning discussions with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Additionally, the legislation would create an Advanced Illness Coordination Services pilot program that offers home-based support of patients with multiple and complex chronic conditions.

This is music to my ears.

The Care Planning Act is supported by a swath of professional associations representing the medical community. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recently gave S 1549 a “Big Thumbs Up” on their website.

What do you think?

On June 24, 2015, I will be moderating the #HPM chat on the topic of “Public Policy and #HPM.”

In this chat I aim to get you thinking about a wish list of policies that could help you in your job. We will also talk about the Care Planning Act of 2015, and what is happening in states around the country.

WHAT: #HPM Chat on Twitter
WHEN: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 / 6pm PT or 9pm ET
HOST: Judy Thomas, JD - @JudyThomasJD

P.S. If you live in California and want to get involved with our work in public policy, drop me a line. This year we are keeping our hands full with a bill that would allow NPs and PAs to sign POLST forms under the supervision of a physician (AB 637—Campos), and a bill that would establish a POLST registry in California (SB 19—Wolk).

Judy Thomas, JD, is CEO of the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, a nonprofit organization that promotes high-quality, compassionate care for all who are seriously ill or nearing the end of life. Together with their partners, CCCC is shaping the future of palliative care at the local, state and national level. As the voice of palliative care in California, CCCC incubates and disseminates models and ideas to improve access to quality care for all people.

If you are new to Tweetchats, you do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Try using the search function on Twitter. If you do have a Twitter account, we recommend using tweetchat.com, for ease of following.

You can access the transcripts and analytics of #hpm chats through @Symplur. 

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