Last week, the Institute of Medicine published a 500-page report entitled “Dying in America” which grapples with the fact that most Americans have not documented their wishes for end-of-life health care, and makes practical suggestions on how to normalize these discussions and let them occur early – in fact even as early as 16 – the year at which many of us receive a driver’s license and ponder whether or not to become an organ donor.
Five years ago, the Affordable Care Act’s proposal for Medicare to reimburse doctors for counseling patients about living wills and advance directives became a rallying cry for its opponents who warned about so-called “death-panels.” The reimbursement provision was removed before the act was passed.
I am happy this important conversation is starting up again…That this prestigious organization, IOM, recognizes its importance…That Hospice Savannah’s work in improving access to physicians and nurse practitioners proficient in palliative care in our community is recommended and supported….And that, finally, reluctance amongst healthcare providers to have direct and honest conversations about end-of-life issues needs to be addressed.
Call our Community Outreach department at 912. 629.1045 to schedule a workshop for your religious or civic group on making your Advance Directives and end of life wishes known. Also, if you would like to chat with me about this recent publication, I may be reached at DLarson@HospiceSavannahHelps.org.