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News Release: End-of-Life Care Legislation Clears Key Committee Vote

December 12, 2017

The Pennsylvania hospital community is praising the State Senate Health and Human Services Committee for its unanimous passage of legislation to help patients and their families communicate their end-of-life care wishes. Senate Bill 623, legislation sponsored by State Senator Gene Yaw (R–Lycoming), would establish the Pennsylvania Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) program.

POLST is a voluntary program designed to work in tandem with advanced directives, helping patients and their families plan and communicate their wishes, so that they can receive the right care for them, in the right place, and at the right time.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and its member hospitals and health systems, along with the Pennsylvania Medical Society, and other health care advocates, have been vocal supporters of POLST legislation.

“End-of-life health care is one of the most difficult topics to discuss with family and friends, but it is necessary in order to carry out the wishes of loved ones. I know from my own personal experience just how important a program like POLST can be in helping patients and families make sure that their medical wishes are honored,” said Andy Carter, HAP President and CEO. 

Senate Bill 623 would codify POLST, providing a consistent and clear form that puts patients and families in charge of their end-of-life care. POLST provides an opportunity for patients and families to provide directions for the use of medical interventions, feeding methods, transportation, administration of medication, and resuscitation. The bill would ensure that the decision to complete a POLST form is voluntary and done at the discretion of each patient and his or her family. These orders would apply across all health care settings.

“Pennsylvania hospitals are proud to have closely worked with a diverse group of physicians, nurses, patient advocates, home health professionals, nursing homes, and faith-based community members to assist with developing this common-sense legislation,” Carter continued. “We applaud the committee’s vote on this bill and urge the Senate and House to follow suit, and Governor Wolf to sign it.”

Companion legislation, House Bill 1196, sponsored by Representative Bryan Cutler (R–Lancaster), awaits consideration by the House Health Committee.

This recent HAP Blog article provides additional information about POLST.​

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