U.S. House of Representatives introduces “Personalize Your Care Act”

Categories: Policy.

As America’s aging population grows, individuals with chronic and advanced illnesses will need access to resources and tools to help make informed choices about advance care planning.  The Personalize Your Care Act of 2016, introduced today by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN), increases accessibility to and public awareness of advance care planning.  It also authorizes a demonstration project to allow individuals with advanced illness to access hospice and palliative care services without forgoing conventional therapies.

“The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization enthusiastically supports the Personalize Your Care Act of 2016 and applauds the leadership of Representatives Blumenauer and Roe,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of NHPCO, J. Donald Schumacher. “Self-determination is at the core of the hospice philosophy and care model, and we believe that the Personalize Your Care Act will allow some of our most vulnerable patients to have information and support they need to make healthcare decisions.

The introduction of the legislation coincides with a Congressional screening of the PBS Frontline documentary “Being Mortal” NHPCO is hosting Wednesday, June 22.  Best-selling author and physician Dr. Atul Gawande will be joined by singer, songwriter, and family caregiver Rory Feek in a panel discussion on how we, as a nation, can provide better care for people with serious, potentially life-limiting illness.

“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,” says Congressman Roe. “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. 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 will increase public awareness through additional Medicare coverage for Advanced Illness Management and Choices Demonstration which allows more accessibility and more choices in care services.  The legislation also requires that advance directives be included within a patient’s electronic health record in order to increase the likelihood that the documents are kept up-to-date and easy to locate. 

“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 Congressman Blumenauer.

As an organization committed to increasing awareness of advance care planning, NHPCO provides free information and tools to the public.  NHPCO’s Caring Info has state-specific advance directive forms and information on advance care planning that can be downloaded from its website www.caringinfo.org/stateaddownload.   Each state’s advance directive is legally reviewed on an annual basis and meets each state’s statutory requirements.