Calif. Improves Palliative Care, but Disparities Remain, Reports Find
California hospitals increasingly are providing palliative care, but some disparities in access remain and more services are needed to meet patient demand, according to two recent reports, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Palliative care is intended to provide comfort to patients with serious illnesses, including:
- Dementia; and
- Heart disease.
According to the Mercury News, California has implemented several initiatives to bolster its palliative care. For example:
- In 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) included palliative care as a key component in the Let's Get Healthy Task Force; and
- In 2014, lawmakers approved a law requiring Medi-Cal health plans to offer palliative care services.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Krieger, San Jose Mercury News, 10/22).
Report Grades Calif. on Palliative Care Access
It found that 74% of California hospitals offer some type of palliative care program, up from 56% of hospitals in 2008. In comparison, an average of 66% of hospital nationwide offer palliative care programs.
However, the report found that access to palliative care varies across the state by facility size. According to the report, nearly all large hospitals in the state provide such care, but just 44% of hospitals with fewer than 50 beds do so.
Separate Report Finds 'Significant Challenges Remain'
A second report, by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Coalition for Compassionate Care, found that the state "has made significant strides" in offering end-of-life palliative care, but "significant challenges remain." CHCF publishes California Healthline.
For example, the report found that palliative care was focused at large and not-for-profit hospitals in urban areas of the state.
Further, it found that there are no palliative care services in several counties, including:
- Kern; and
Meanwhile, California could struggle to meet increasing demand for palliative care services as the population ages, according to the report. The report found that there currently are only enough services to meet between 33% and 50% of patient demand.
"The growing demand for palliative care far outpaces the capacity of services," according to the report (San Jose Mercury News, 10/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.