Thursday, June 25, 2009

The End of Life Equation

Center for Practical Bioethics advising Congress, Institute of Medicine and the Commonwealth Fund on end of life initiatives

President Barack Obama, in a June 24 town hall meeting on healthcare reform, said he does not want to see bureaucracies making end of life decisions. At the same time, healthcare reform will not solve every difficult problem with end of life care. “We as a culture and as a society have to start making better decisions within our own families and ourselves,” he said.

The Center for Practical Bioethics has been working toward the goal of better decision making at the end of life for more than two decades. Three current developments highlight the Center’s role and impact in these critical policy areas:

1. On Monday, June 22 the Center, in collaboration with RAND Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services, delivered a report to Congress on advance directives and advance care planning. It’s the largest study ever done on the efficacy of advance care planning and recommends changes in policy to improve end of life planning. (Link to report here.)

2. This Saturday, June 27 John Carney, the Center’s Vice President for Aging and End of Life will speak at a policy conference sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund focusing on two important issues: the intersection of long-term care and end-of-life care and long-term care financing reform.

3. Next month, Myra Christopher, Center President and CEO, will join 35 leading clinicians, payers, policymakers and consumers at the Institute of Medicine to develop a model to empower patients and improve care for those with advanced illness.

“The Center has a 25 year track record of working in this arena,” Christopher says. “Now is a critical time to find common ground on what we ought to do to provide quality care in an equitable fashion for the seriously ill and dying.”

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