State Governments Taking the Initiative With Palliative Care

Palliative care is gaining steam as an important part of an ill patient’s care, and state governments have quickly jumped on the bandwagon to create laws mandating it as part of a complete treatment program.

What is palliative care?

Unfortunately, this type of care is much misunderstood, which explains why it is also so underused. As opposed to hospice care, which is comforting treatment for the terminally ill, palliative care seeks to provide comforting and symptomatic treatment for people with serious or chronic conditions but who are not terminal. It can be provided along with curative treatments and is meant to be given side by side, not instead of, curative care. The goal is to improve the patient’s quality of life while he undergoes treatment and/or deals with a serious medical issue.

How are state governments kicking in?

As of this writing, there are 27 states that have already enacted measures that aim to bring palliative care to more people who need it, and to require healthcare providers and facilities to identify and inform potential patients about what they do. While not all of the state laws are the same, they all have the same goal and similar programs to bring it about. The National Academy of State Health Policy, in describing the efforts of state governments, says that the

State laws deal with a four-pronged approach: laws that define what what it is, as well as create standards and provide support; instituting Medicaid payment plans to ensure quality care; providing public education and including it in public health initiatives; and bringing together stakeholders to give feedback.

The state of Ohio recently passed a law obligating healthcare facilities, including hospitals and nursing home, to find people who would be eligible for palliative care and to provide information for them about their services.

In March, the state of Kentucky passed a law that will organize an interdisciplinary team of specialists to create a system for spreading awareness and dissemination. New Jersey is has been mulling over enacting a comparable law.

How can palliative care help?

The human interest aspect of palliative care is very compelling, as it’s meant to relieve the patient from stress and pain. However, this also leads to a financial benefit; data shows that Medicaid saves $7000 per patient each year. Research from Florida TaxWatch, an organization that studies economic issues, shows that palliative care could save millions of dollars in future health costs. They are recommending that the state of Florida increase its efforts kin this area.  

Why do we need this legislation?

If palliative care is so fundamental, why do we need all of this legislation? Unfortunately, most Americans simply don’t know what it is. A study quoted in the Journal of Palliative Medicine found that as many as 71% of Americans, including healthcare providers, don’t actually know what it is or how it can help them. Even more, doctors seem to hold a concern about recommending it, as people may misconstrue it to have the same purpose as hospice care. Considering its essential benefits, lawmakers see the need to put it into law and make sure the word gets out about palliative care.

At Sinai Post Acute Care Center for Rehabilitation, we offer excellent palliative care services for our patients. We believe in providing comforting care to alleviate pain and make our patients feel better, helping them recover quicker.