Some liberal advocates have a bleak vision for end-of-life care in New York that centers on the legalization of assisted suicide. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms profoundly disagrees with that vision. Rather than letting doctors play God by prescribing lethal drugs to terminally-ill persons, we support increasing the availability of hospice and palliative care.
Bill S.4858-Hinchey/A.5587-Wallace would establish a new Office of Hospice and Palliative Care Access and Quality within the New York State Department of Health. Hospice and palliative care practitioners manage the symptoms of patients experiencing serious or terminal illnesses, and they help to keep those patients comfortable. The bill memorandum asserts that New York’s underutilization of hospice care “results in remarkably high hospitalization readmissions, creating additional burdens on New York State’s already overwhelmed hospital finances and resources.” The creation of a new office devoted exclusively to hospice and palliative care would improve access to these services, helping seriously ill New Yorkers and their families.
The proposed Office of Hospice and Palliative Care Access and Quality (OHPCAQ) would make recommendations to improve the care of patients with serious illnesses, eliminate barriers to hospice and palliative care access, monitor the utilization of end-of-life care and the quality of such care, and offer education on hospice and palliative care.
Last year, the Office of Hospice and Palliative Care Bill passed the State Senate and the State Assembly, but was vetoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on the grounds that it had budgetary implications. While this bill was not included in the 2023-2024 state budget, Bill S.4858-Hinchey/A.5587-Wallace passed the Assembly as a stand-alone bill on May 24, 2023 by a vote of 142-0. The bill is on third reading in the Senate, which means that it could be voted upon at any time.
The bill memorandum accompanying the Office of Hospice and Palliative Care Bill asserts that the fiscal implications of the bill are minimal. Accordingly, it should not be necessary for this bill to be included in the budget. We call upon the Legislature and Gov. Hochul to enact this legislation as a stand-alone bill in 2023.