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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE BY EXPANDING ACCESS TO PALLIATIVE CARE

         Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
         Chapter 111 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following 2 sections:-
         Section 233.  (a) As used in sections 233 and 234 the following word shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meaning:
         “Palliative care”, patient and family-centered medical care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating the suffering caused by a medical illness or physical injury that substantially impacts a patient’s quality of life, including, but not limited to: addressing physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs; facilitating patient autonomy, access to information and choice; discussing the patient’s goals for treatment; discussing the treatment options appropriate for the patient, including, where appropriate, hospice care; and comprehensive pain and symptom management.
         (b)  There shall be a palliative care and quality of life interdisciplinary advisory council within the department.
         The council shall be appointed by the commissioner and shall consist of 13 members representing the interdisciplinary fields of palliative care, medicine, nursing, social work, pharmacy, spirituality and the area of  patient and family caregiver advocacy.  The commissioner may appoint other members that the commissioner deems appropriate.  Membership shall include health professionals having palliative care work experience or expertise in palliative care delivery models in a variety of inpatient, outpatient and community settings, including acute care, long-term care and hospice and with a variety of populations, including pediatric, youth and adults.  At least 2 council members shall be board-certified hospice and palliative medicine physicians or nurses. Council members shall serve for a period of 3 years at the pleasure of the commissioner. The members shall elect a chair and vice chair whose duties shall be established by the council. The department shall provide a place for regular meetings of the council, which shall meet at least twice each year.
Council members shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be allowed actual and necessary expenses in the performance of their council duties.
         The council shall consult with and advise the department on matters related to the establishment, maintenance, operation and evaluation of palliative care initiatives in the commonwealth.
         Section 234.  Subject to appropriation, there shall be a statewide palliative care consumer and professional information and education program within the department.  The program shall work to maximize the effectiveness of palliative care initiatives in the commonwealth by making comprehensive and accurate information and education about palliative care available to the public, health care providers and health care facilities.
         The department shall publish information and resources about the program on its website, including links to external resources, for the public, health care providers and health care facilities, including, but not limited to, the following:  (i) continuing educational opportunities for health care providers; (ii) information about palliative care delivery in the home and in primary, secondary and tertiary environments; (iii) best practices for palliative care delivery; and (iv) consumer educational materials and referral information for palliative care, including hospice.
         The department may develop and implement other initiatives regarding palliative care services and education that the department determines to further the purposes of this section.
         In implementing the program, the department shall consult with the palliative care and quality of life interdisciplinary advisory council established in section 233.

Approved, January 7, 2015.