Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Merits of Advance-Care Planning

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Merits of Advance-Care Planning

Article excerpt

LAST WEEK, the state Senate's Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee moved a bill sponsored by Sen. Richard Codey, D- Essex, that would allow the state's Medicaid program to reimburse providers for "advance-care planning," including planning for end- of-life scenarios. If passed by the full Senate and Assembly, the bill, S-2435, would mean that Medicaid providers in New Jersey would be reimbursed for assisting patients in planning potential courses of treatment, including which measures the patient wants taken to prolong life and which the patient would refuse.


Among these choices would be whether patients would choose to be put on life support and whether they would want a feeding tube at the end of life.

Planning these decisions in advance means that patients are able to address issues in a calm, non-emergency setting. They are done while patients are of sound mind. They also may provide a means for patients to avoid costly, unnecessary and unwanted care. And advance- care planning means that families have a clear articulation of the wishes of their loved one, rather than trying to second-guess or do what they imagine the patient would have wanted.

If passed, New Jersey would be only the third state in the country to reimburse for such planning.

The measure cleared the committee along party lines, with all five committee Democrats - Codey and Sens. Joseph Vitale of Middlesex County, Fred Madden of Gloucester County, Robert Gordon of Fair Lawn and Jim Whelan of Atlantic County - voting in favor; two Republicans, Sens. Robert W. Singer of Ocean County and Dawn Marie Addiego of Burlington County, abstained. Republican Sen. Diane B. Allen of Burlington County was absent.

Codey's bill is a solid measure that addresses a series of important issues for New Jersey's most vulnerable and infirm residents. It has earned the support of both the New Jersey Hospital Association and the Home Care Association of New Jersey, and should be passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Christie.


Codey's measure is important because while we think of Medicaid as being the health safety net of the poor, today's Medicaid recipients are also likely to be older individuals who have "spent down" their assets or who have actually been impoverished because of the high costs associated with their health care. …

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