END-OF-LIFE CARE: MA Committee Says Care Obviates Suicide
A Massachusetts special legislative subcommittee reported yesterday that improved end-of-life care could prevent many terminally ill patients from considering physician-assisted suicide. State Rep. John Rogers (D), co-chair of the committee and "an opponent of a bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide," said that better education of patients and caregivers is "a very strong first step toward eradicating the current end-of-life care deficiencies that would lead some Massachusetts citizens to consider suicide as a means to end their suffering." The subcommittee's report, based on a year-long study, recommends creating a Governor's Task Force on End-of-Life Care that would "initiate 'town meeting'-type seminars to stimulate community dialogue and help educate the public on the issue." In addition, the report advocates establishing "a 24-hour hot line," compiling "a resources guide" and creating "a pilot program" for the terminally ill and their caregivers. The report also advises the state to offer grants to Massachusetts medical schools encouraging them to provide courses in end-of-life care and recommends that the state licensing board require health care professionals to undergo similar education. Finally, the subcommittee recommends that further attention be given to improving HMOs' end-of-life care standards, "standardizing the hospice benefits structure and promoting better advance care planning" (McHugh, Worchester Telegram & Gazette, 1/5).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.