World days

Today in my church, University United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas we celebrated World Communion Sunday.  Along those same lines, this coming Sunday, October 8, 2011, is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

Seldom a week goes by that I don’t hear accolades about the role of hospice in end-of-life times.  For our family, hospice was and always will be a Godsend.  Perhaps the same is true for you.

Let us remember and celebrate all the tremendous hospice care professionals across our world as we look to World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.  In this organization’s web link, there is a tab to ‘tell your story’ which I hope you will consider given the power of stories to change peoples’ lives and give comfort to all by knowing we are not alone.


Healthcare Reform – An NHPCO Update

In previous blogs I have written about the need for accurate information on the ever-changing prospects for healthcare reform at the national level.  As such, this week I wanted to pass along a recent Public Policy Update from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) which might be helpful.  No doubt additional action has taken place on the issue of healthcare reform in recent days and weeks.  Thus to obtain more recent information, please contact NHPCO directly.

Public Policy Update: The Latest News on Hospice & Health Care Reform

Senate Finance Committee Begins Mark-Up

The Senate Finance Committee has begun consideration of America’s Healthy Future Act. As we told you last week, the proposal currently includes additional rate cuts to hospice. Based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and projections from the Finance Committee, NHPCO estimates that the productivity cuts will amount to an 11.8 percent reduction (after annual Market Basket increases) to hospice reimbursement by 2019.

We’re currently working with hospice champions on the Finance Committee to craft an amendment which would relieve hospice from these additional devastating cuts. We are working to propose a responsible alternative that acknowledges the cost savings from efficiencies already imposed upon hospice through recent regulatory changes and recognizes the unique health care model that hospice is; one that is patient-centered and based on the people that deliver compassionate, high-quality care at the bedside.

Currently, the amendment is being reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office to determine the associated costs. If the amendment can be structured to meet the Finance Committee requirement of budget neutrality, then it should be considered as part of the debate this week. We will keep you apprised of updates and ask for your help to garner support if the amendment moves forward.

The Committee is currently hearing opening statements, and it is anticipated that the consideration of amendments will begin tomorrow. There have been more than 500 amendments filed, so the Committee will be working through the week, and perhaps beyond.

In the meantime, it is critical that we continue to educate Congress on the impact of the proposed cuts to hospice. Contact your Members of Congress TODAY to tell them that “Two Cuts are Too Much for Hospice!”



Health Care Reform – An Accurate Perspective on End-of-Life Care

Given all of the mis-information and escalated rhetoric about health care reform, especially as it relates to end-of-life healthcare issues, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has provided us with an accurate and timely web-site link to stay abreast of this important issue currently being debated in Washington, DC and across the country.

Advance Directives On-Line

One of the most important components of what the late Rev. Charles Meyer refers to as The Good Death is to get our medical and legal affairs in order long before end-of-life is near.  Such a pro-active plan allows us to have our collective faculties around us when making decisions like what kind of medical care we prefer, who we want making decisions for us if we are incapable, where we want to die, etc.  Making such decisions is vitally important, yet seldom at the forefront of our minds.

In order to help us with this endeavor, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Caring Connections, a leading provider of advance care planning information, and Google Health™ have joined together in a goal of increasing the access to and availability of advance care planning information and resources on line.  As J. Donald Shumacher, President and CEO of NHPCO, stated: “How can medical professionals honor your health care wishes and preferences if they don’t know what they are?  Advance directives are useless unless they are available during emergency health care situations.  Google Health will make these documents accessible on line and will eliminate a huge barrier of access during times of need.” 

Through this partnership, users of Google Health can access and download a free, state-specific advance directive and then store the scanned documents securely on line.  For more information on accessing this important resource, go to and create a count for yourself.  Then download and print the advance directive form for your particular state at

Best wishes on your planning.  Melody

New Alliance Launched To Address Urgent Palliative Care Needs

Just recently the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) launched a new global action network designed to focus exclusively on hospice and palliative care development worldwide. The full press announcement can be found here .

More than 100 million people and their families worldwide need palliative care and support each year; however, it is estimated that only seven percent actually receive it, according to the release.

Dr. Cynthia Goh, co-chair of the WPCA, from the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network, noted, “Only 15 percent of the world’s countries have hospice and palliative care that is integrated with general health care, so the formation of the WPCA is tremendously positive step forward in helping to meet an overwhelming need.”

The Web site for the newly formed group is here.