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Advocates Praise Blumenthal's New End-of-Life Care Bill

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Advance directives can save families from having to agonize over end-of-life decisions when a patient can't speak for him or herself. (Click/Morguefile)
Advance directives can save families from having to agonize over end-of-life decisions when a patient can't speak for him or herself. (Click/Morguefile)
December 3, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. -- In the face of a staggering death toll from COVID-19, and the prospect that many more will succumb, the U.S. Senate is considering a bill to help Americans plan for end-of-life issues.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced the Compassionate Care Act on Tuesday, which would modernize end-of-life planning and expand the use of advance directives.

Dr. David Grube, national medical director for the nonprofit advocacy group Compassion and Choices, noted only one-third of American adults have made their end-of-life wishes known.

"It's so important, particularly if you're not able to speak for yourself," Grube explained. "For your loved ones and your health-care team know if you would like to be resuscitated, if you would like to be put on a breathing machine, if you would not like to have those things."

Many patients have died without family members by their side, because they're not allowed in the hospital due to the pandemic.

The bill also would expand the use of telehealth during the end-of-life process, which limits exposure to the virus.

Advocates suggested everyone have a verbal discussion with family members about end-of-life choices, record a video on their phone, and put a copy of their advance directive in their medical charts and in the glove box of their car.

Grube added advance-directive paperwork is not long or complicated.

"There's no charge to complete it," Grube confirmed. "It does not take an attorney or a notary public. The forms are easily available, and can be downloaded from the Compassion and Choices website, and other places, so these forms can be easily completed."

The bill also calls for a public relations campaign to educate Americans about end-of-life care, especially communities of color that have been hardest hit during the pandemic.

Disclosure: Compassion and Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CT