Legislation Seeks to Provide Seniors with Help Navigating Healthcare System

by michellerogers on July 17, 2009

With healthcare reform on Congress’ agenda this summer, a Virginia senator has introduced legislation that would help seniors better navigate through the healthcare system.

The Senior Navigation and Planning Act of 2009 (S.1263) would help Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers plan for their transition into senior life in non-crisis moments. “Essentially, we are trying to help seniors, their families and caregivers navigate through a complex healthcare system,” Sen. Mark Warner said in guest column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“My legislation – which has been endorsed by groups such as AARP, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Duke University Divinity School – provides access to hospice expertise and other care planning services to those who have been diagnosed with a life expectancy of 18 months or less, while also allowing patients to continue to pursue curative treatments. This will allow more seniors to have access to palliative care, advance care planning that is patient-centered, and counseling, respite and care training for family members,” Warner writes.

“Most important, my proposal gives both patients and their families wider access to more tools – sooner – so they can make more informed choices about all of their options.”

The legislation includes incentives for doctors, hospitals and nursing homes to incorporate accredited programs in palliative care into their discharge planning.

Besides providing emotional relief and peace of mind for patients and their families, this improved advanced care planning may have economic benefits, Warner said.

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