Health Care Reform Act: Talk to Your Aging Parents About the Real Purpose of a Living Will

The national health care reform act is in the news. There are many issues that are critical to make care for the elderly and our whole system even more effective. Unfortunately there are rampant distortions and confusion about the part of the bill that would fund Advance Care Planning and your aging parents having conversations with their doctor about the end of life.

Here's a clarification about the health care reform act from "Your Weekly Medicare Consumer Advocacy Update"

Scare Tactics

July 30, 2009 • Volume 9, Issue 30

The opponents of the [health care reform act] will say anything to stop it, no matter how untrue. The latest falsehood alleges that the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200) would require older adults to obtain counseling “that will tell them how to end their life sooner,” in the words of Betsy McCaughey, an employee of the conservative Hudson Institute. Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, went a step further, implying that House Democrats’ health care reform act would “put seniors in the position of being put to death by their government.”

These falsehoods are designed to scare older adults and gin up opposition to health reform. In fact, HR 3200 provides Medicare coverage for a consultation with a doctor — not a government official — in which the patient can express her preferences regarding end-of-life care. The patient is not required to have this consultation, and there is no mandate for the patient to complete an advance directive (such as a living will) or forgo aggressive treatment of a life-threatening illness.

Health Care Reform Act: All Our Fears

Below is an article by journalist, Anne Moore, which helps clarify why the fears around the health care reform act are so easy to tap into. It helps to put advance care planning in the proper context.

Harry and Louis Must Die

We could save billions in healthcare if we could accept death and say goodbye outside the hospital

By Anne Moore

Aug. 4, 2009 | Next year we'll spend $17 billion in Medicare dollars on an oxymoron: preventing inevitable death. So forget for a moment the plans coming out of Washington. Curing healthcare is not a question of Obama's blue pill or Obama's red pill. The answer may be no pill at all.

At the end of our long and increasingly longer lives, when we are terminally ill and in the last months of life, we must accept our bodies' decline, face our own mortality, gather our families and say goodbye. Say no to feeding tubes, ventilators, resuscitators, the isolation of ICU.

End-of-life care eats up 12 percent of U.S. healthcare dollars; next year, we'll spend $135 billion on it. That's not money spent getting well and extending life, that's money spent preventing and easing death in terminally ill patients. Indeed, 40 percent of Medicare dollars are spent in the last 30 days of life.

Where does the money go? Hospitals. Half of us die in hospitals, 20 percent of us in their ICU beds, which cost 10 times as much, on a daily basis, as hospice care. ICU costs $1,500 daily; on average, $10,900 the first day.

Don't blame hospitals or physicians. We check in, we ask to be saved. Doctors provide care; they're not supposed to cut off or limit care. Besides, they might get sued.

We are the problem... (Read the rest of the story)

Health Care Reform Act: Our Hopes

  • What we want is for our aging loved ones to be able to afford their medications without having to make impossible choices (meds or food, meds or heat...)

  • What we want is for our aging loved ones is to be able to make their own decisions and have those choices honored at the ends of their lives.

  • What we want is for the medical establishment and health care teams be partners with our families and aging loved ones to have the very best quality of life (as our beloveds define it) until the end.

    Advance Directives : Why You Actually Have to Talk to Your Aging Parents Advance Directives are needed if there comes a time when your aging parents are unable to make health care decisions for themselves. ...If your parents are ever incapacitated and unable to make their own medical choices, an Advanced Directive allows them to still be in control of their own care, but through the voice of someone else that they have already chosen.

    Health Care Reform Act to Talk Early Talk Often With Aging Parents Home Page

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