June 30, 2017

Advance Care Planning

ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman commended the bipartisan leadership of several members of Congress last month as they prepared to introduce bipartisan advance care planning legislation in the House and Senate. Susman wrote in a May 31 letter that the Patient Choice and Quality Care Act of 2017, introduced as H.R. 2797 on June 7 by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and as S. 1334 on June 12 by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), is a “valuable step forward in preparing health systems that utilize advance care planning.” Susman emphasized that the ABA has strongly promoted the value of advance care planning and the use of advance health care directives by all adults for decades and supports many of the bills’ provisions. These include: integrating advance care planning into a holistic advance illness-management demonstration program; facilitating the development of quality measures for advance care planning; creating standards for incorporating advance car planning documents into electronic health records; and providing grants to improve public awareness of advance care planning. The legislation also provides for the creation of a national support center for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) programs, which are supported by the ABA as a way to strengthen the documentation of advance care plans and promote access to and financing of high-quality comprehensive long-term supportive services for individuals with advanced illness. Susman highlighted the importance of advance care planning, noting that medical literature shows that a patient and his or her family’s communications with each other and with their physicians are vital to ensuring the patient’s care matches their values and goals. Of the changes made by the bill, Susman said, “the process ensures that patients’ values and goals drive their care, rather than the preferences of providers, insurers, government, or others.”

 

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