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Blumenauer, Roe Introduce Legislation to Strengthen End-of-Life Care

June 22, 2016

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Phil Roe (R-TN) introduced the Personalize Your Care Act 2.0, legislation to strengthen end-of-life care by establishing new models of care that will better manage advanced illness, improve quality of care, and enhance training, resources, and tools for providers, patients, and their families.

The Personalize Your Care Act 2.0 builds on Mr. Blumenauer and Dr. Roe’s Personalize Your Care Act of 2013, legislation to make sure patients receive care at the end of life that is consistent with their stated goals, values, and informed preferences. Following their advocacy, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services established a benefit for advance care planning. As a result, providers are now reimbursed for their time to have these complex conversations with patients and their families. Documents like advance directives and physician orders for life sustaining treatment (POLST) are a first step in providing high-quality, personalized care, but more must be done.

“Medicare providers are now being reimbursed for having thoughtful and thorough conversations with patients and their families about end-of-life choices. Our legislation builds on what we’ve accomplished to further ensure patients’ wishes for care are understood, respected, and enforced.” said Blumenauer.

“Conversations about end-of-life care can be difficult, but it’s extremely important for patients and their families to make these decisions with their medical providers. I’ve been on both sides of these discussions – as a physician and a family member – and I know firsthand the peace of mind that comes with knowing a patient or loved one’s wishes,” said Roe. “This bill will ensure patients, families and medical professionals have the resources and tools they need to navigate these sensitive but necessary conversations, and I am proud to partner with Congressman Blumenauer on this legislation.”

The Personalize Your Care Act 2.0 aims to strengthen end-of-life care by:

  • Authorizing a new model of care under Medicare that integrates palliative care and supporting services by providing curative care options in addition to hospice services.
  • Providing grants to states to establish or expand POLST programs, which have a positive record of promoting patient autonomy through documenting and coordinating a person’s treatment preferences.
  • Providing grants to develop additional decision support tools for individuals, caregivers, and providers that include the importance of articulating goals of care, developing a care plan, and documentation.
  • Improving the accessibility and portability of advance care planning documents by ensuring that an individual’s electronic health record displays the current advance directive and/or POLST so that a patient’s goals, values, and preferences are more readily available.
  • Providing resources to enhance provider training in basic advance care planning and palliative care, including culturally appropriate communication skills, inter-professional collaboration, and symptom management.
  • Directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to include end-of-life quality measures as part of current efforts to develop alternative payment models and payment reforms under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

Blumenauer Efforts to Strengthen End-of-Life Care

Blumenauer—a member of the Ways and Means Committee, including the Subcommittee on Health—has been a tireless champion of empowering patients and providers to better recognize goals, values, and wishes throughout the care continuum. During the Affordable Care Act (ACA) debate, his provision to provide Medicare reimbursement for doctors who discuss end-of-life care treatment preferences with their patients was included in the House version of the bill. Since the ACA, he continued to push for these important conversations to become a Medicare benefit, which was finally recognized in the 2016 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.