Progress for Those With Treatment Wishes Near End of Life

The care that people receive near the end of life should reflect the care they want, according to their beliefs and preferences. Unfortunately, most Americans become incapacitated before discussing those plans with loved ones or health care professionals. Research shows that sharing end-of-life care preferences before becoming incapacitated significantly benefits patients—and can help to reduce their family’s stress and anxiety.

Progress toward this goal is being made. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a final rule that allows Medicare, beginning in January, to reimburse health care professionals for time spent discussing advance care planning with patients. While this is an important first step in ensuring that a patient’s wishes are honored, more can and should be done.

As an editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out, the U.S. Senate should consider the Care Planning Act (S. 1549), introduced in June by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), which would build on the steps being taken by CMS. “The bill includes admirable steps to measure outcomes—health care jargon for determining whether the program is meeting its intended goal of reflecting a patient’s choices in the treatment that is delivered,” the Nov. 18 editorial states. “In addition, the bill would provide grants to increase public awareness of new end-of-life care planning options and the value of making decisions in advance.”

Pew supports this bipartisan legislation and commends Sens. Warner and Isakson and the four original co-sponsors for their efforts to improve end-of-life care.

National Homeownership Month

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.