Warner Builds Support For Life Care Planning Legislation - Leesburg Today Online—Daily News Coverage of Loudoun County, Leesburg, Ashburn: News

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Warner Builds Support For Life Care Planning Legislation

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:09 pm, Tue Apr 2, 2013.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was in Ashburn Wednesday to discuss his proposed federal initiative to promote advanced illness planning with leaders of area hospice, health care and elder care organizations.

His bill, titled the Senior Navigation & Planning Act, was first proposed in 2009 and is designed to help patients and families better prepare for long illnesses, while increasing access to palliative and hospice care aimed at reducing suffering.

While a sensitive political topic—the concepts were at the root of the “death panel” quips by Sarah Palin and other healthcare reform critics in 2009—the three dozen care providers gathered in the School Board meeting room in Broadlands agreed that a better understanding of living wills, advance directives and powers of attorney was important to families and the overall healthcare system.

“America is the only advanced country in the world that hasn’t had an adult conversation about this,” Warner said. Audience members were all too familiar with the concerns, as they serve on the front line trying to help patients and their families navigate through complex and emotional choices. In sharing their concerns and recommendations with Warner, many drew on experiences with their own family members to express frustrations about the inability to make sure medical providers honor patients’ treatment wishes. They talked about situations when the hospital staff was not made aware of patients’ directives before starting unwanted treatment and about families’ difficulties in getting information about patient conditions because of HEPA regulations.

More important, Warner and other providers agreed, was the need for families to discuss end-of-life planning so they can act confidently when faced with difficult decisions, and have the documentation in hand giving them the power to ensure those wishes are carried out.

Warner suggested it should be a topic around the table for families at Thanksgiving.

He and others said there would be merit in a public service ad campaign to raise awareness of the need for families to have the discussions. Getting information on life planning issues in the hands of area religious leaders to share with their congregations also was identified as an important outreach option.

But Warner acknowledged the challenge is not only about raising awareness of the planning needs. Information families need is not readily available, another concern his legislation seeks to address.

“We really don’t have a ‘how to’ guidebook,” Warner said.

While increased community outreach can proceed without federal legislation, Warner will be taking his third try to push his bill through Congress, with the goal of making care planning a standard benefit available for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Participants after the hour-long session said they welcomed the platform to air their concerns—and their support for Warner’s proposals. Several also urged the formation of a regional coalition of hospice and palliative caregivers, hospitals and faith-based organizations to promote life planning to area families.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Glory posted at 3:16 pm on Tue, Apr 2, 2013.

    Glory Posts: 1035

    Warner has a tremendous chance of being reelected compared to Silly Sayrah.

    The failed VP wannabe, failed 1/2 governor, failed reality tv star, failed Fixed News commentator whose John Birch society, birther, Agenda 21-influenced propaganda has sent her poll numbers plummeting?

    Re: her recent CPAC rant against consultants - $4.6 million out of a $5 million PAC went toward consultants, not candidates. User extraordinaire.

  • The Bulletproof Monk posted at 3:09 pm on Sun, Mar 31, 2013.

    The Bulletproof Monk Posts: 20

    First and foremost, Palin was right on the money. Warner just proved it.
    Secondly, he just voted against the 2nd Amendment , and is evidently in complete orchestration with the UN firearm ownership obliteration.
    Does he really want to be reelected?

  • Glory posted at 10:50 am on Sat, Mar 30, 2013.

    Glory Posts: 1035

    The LTM coverage shows a personal and sensitive side of this issue. "In case we forget. . . Sarah Palin" is fear-monger and self-promoter. We have forgotten her, thankfully.

  • mas954 posted at 9:41 am on Fri, Mar 29, 2013.

    mas954 Posts: 352

    I don't think it's a Thanksgiving discussion, but it should be discussed. It really bothers me that I can take my dog or cat to the vet and my pet can be ushered into peace, but not me. No. I have to be starved or thirsted to death.

    It's a horrible, painful decision - even when it's your dog / cat. But to have to watch your mom or dad or other loved one suffer and die painfully bc some moral do gooders won't mind their business, just exacerbates an already terrible and PERSONAL circumstance.

    We do need legislation to allow people to die with some dignity. Jack Kevorkian was ahead of his time.

  • marloS posted at 6:48 am on Fri, Mar 29, 2013.

    marloS Posts: 1

    In case we forget . . . Sarah Palin was correct about the "death panels". Now they have just changed the name and called it "Life Planning". Why not call it what it really is . . . DEATH planning! Three years ago my then 87 year old Mom was diagnosed by THREE doctors as having pancreatic cancer. They basically told my sister to take my Mom home and keep her comfortable. My sister, an RN, insisted they do surgery. Absolutely no cancer was found! It was scar tissue from taking a doctor prescribed med!! Today she is an active 90 year old, hoping to live to 100! Also a friend whose 66 year old husband had a stroke was advised by a MD hospitpal to stop his feeding because he would be a "vegetable". Well, that vegetable, just 9 months later beat us all at rummy last weekend and is making terrific progress! "Life Planning" is just a cover-up name for actual "death panels" that were in the OB legislation. [sad]

  • aussymom posted at 5:15 pm on Thu, Mar 28, 2013.

    aussymom Posts: 64

    My husband and I have had living wills since we were in our thirties, we have presented them several time during hospital visits. This can spare your children of difficult decisions if need be. I had to let both parents go under the same situation and I don't wish that on anyone, but it was an end of life decision that was best for the individule not the hospital or staff.

    Good work Mr Warner keep spreading the word!

  • itscrankin posted at 3:25 pm on Thu, Mar 28, 2013.

    itscrankin Posts: 64

    "Warner suggested it should be a topic around the table for families at Thanksgiving."

    Yep, I can just see it now. "Hey grandma, while you're passing the gravy would you mind telling me how you'd like to die? Should we use a shotgun out back behind the shed, or take you to a home and let them euthanize you the 'Warner Way'?"

    This is one of a myriad of reasons why I didn't vote for Mark Warner, and never will.