Legislation Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, John McKeon, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Raj Mukherji and Pam Lampitt sponsored to help low-income New Jersey residents access the information and resources needed to ensure they receive the end-of-life care they desire has received final legislative approval. It now heads to the governor's desk.
The bill (A-4233) would amend current law to provide Medicaid coverage for advance care planning. Under the legislation, such planning may include consultation with a health care practitioner regarding the preparation of advance health care directives, health care powers of attorney and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment.
"Everyone in New Jersey - regardless of socioeconomic status - ought to be able to preserve his or her dignity if incapacitated and in need of medical attention, but end-of-life planning is out of reach for many," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). "Providing Medicaid reimbursement for advance care planning would improve access to this valuable service, allowing patients to have more autonomy regarding end-of-life care."
At least two state Medicaid programs, in Colorado and Oregon, cover advance care planning conversations between physicians and patients, Jasey noted.
"Health care professionals can provide people with the information they need to understand the various facets of end-of-life care and make decisions accordingly," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "This bill will help ensure that everyone in New Jersey can receive the most appropriate care and have the best possible quality of life in the event of a long-term chronic or terminal illness."
"New Jersey residents who benefit from Medicaid should have the opportunity to plan ahead so that the stress of having an illness is not compounded by that of having to make critical decisions at the last minute," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This legislation is about enabling everyone to have the peace of mind that comes with understanding their options and taking a proactive approach to health care."
"All patients deserve to be able to understand, discuss and outline end-of-life care in a way that incorporates their personal values and beliefs," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "This bill will extend the option of advance care planning to more New Jersey families."
"End-of-life planning always involves some difficult conversations, but giving more individuals the opportunity to establish advance directives with a qualified professional and their family members present can alleviate some of the stress," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This legislation will help ensure that health care providers who serve Medicaid beneficiaries understand and can honor their patients' wishes."
The measure gained final legislative approval from the Senate on Thursday.