Trenton – A Senate committee today approved a bill, S-3729, authored by Senator Richard Codey that would have Medicaid cover community-based palliative care, the specialized medical care for those living with serious illnesses.
“Palliative care focuses on the symptoms of serious illnesses that can have such a debilitative effect on the health and well-being of patients,” said Senator Codey. “Palliative care in the home or the local community can dramatically improve the quality of life for the patient and their families and help extend the patient’s lifespan. It provides comfort, relief and support for those in need.”
The care includes care for pain management, stress, depression and spiritual support for life-threatening conditions such as cancer, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease and dementia, among other illnesses.
Palliative care can be helpful at any stage of illness and is best provided soon after a person is diagnosed. It can be provided in conjunction with curative treatments that target the disease itself.
Senator Codey’s bill would direct the Commissioner of Human Services to apply to federal Medicaid officials for any necessary amendments or waivers to implement the provisions of the bill and to secure federal funding for the services. It would also have the Commissioner adopt rules and regulations to implement the bill, including guidance on the medical conditions and prognoses that would be eligible for the care.
Licensed home health agencies and Medicaid-approved hospice agencies would be authorized to provide community-based or in-home services, under the bill. Medicaid currently covers only hospice care for those with a life expectancy of six months or less.
The bill was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee with a vote of 8-0.