Palliative Care Legislation Sent to Governor’s Desk

Legislation supported by a coalition of health care organizations and advocacy groups, including the Home Care Alliance, that would improve consumer education and provider quality around palliative care has made it to the Governor’s desk on the last day of the 2013-2014 legislative session.

House Bill 4520 sponsored by Representative Chris Walsh, if signed into law by the Governor, would create a State Advisory Council on Palliative Care and Quality of Life. This interdisciplinary group would consult with and advise the Department of Public Health on matters related to the establishment, maintenance, operation and outcomes evaluation of palliative care initiatives in the Commonwealth.

The bill also seeks to establish a Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program that would look to maximize the effectiveness of palliative care initiatives in the Commonwealth by ensuring that comprehensive and accurate information and education about palliative care is available to the public, health care providers and health care facilities.

Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health would be charged with publishing on its web site, information and resources including links to external resources about palliative care for the public, health care providers, and health care facilities. This would include, but not be limited to, continuing education opportunities for health care providers; information about palliative care delivery in the home, primary, secondary, and tertiary environments; best practices for palliative care delivery; and consumer educational materials and referral information for palliative care, including hospice.

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network has led the charge on this effort, which Home Care Alliance has supported throughout the legislative process. The bill promotes the idea that palliative care is appropriate for patients with advanced illnesses or conditions that employ a team-based and patient-centered approach that takes into account a person’s emotional and mental well-being and strives to improve the quality of life for both patient and family.

More updates on this issue will follow.

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