TRENTON – The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee moved unanimously on a bill that establishes a state advisory council on end-of-life care in the Department of Health and Senior Services.
This bill, A3839, sponsored by Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-29), of Newark, establishes the N.J. Advisory Council on End-of-Life Care, a public-private board that will deliver a report to the state in 18 months.
The17-member board includes representatives of the commissioners of DHSS and the Department of Human Services, two legislative members appointed by the Senate president and Assembly speaker (members of different political parties), and 11 public members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. These public appointees include a representative of licensed hospice care programs; two physicians with expertise in issues relating to pain management or end-of-life care, one of whom is an oncologist; a representative of general hospitals; a representative of nursing homes; a registered professional nurse; an attorney with expertise in health care law; a patient advocate hospital employee; two members of the general public with expertise or interest in the work of the advisory council who are not licensed health care professionals, at least one of whom is a member of a minority racial or ethnic group; and a representative of academia with expertise in biomedical ethical issues relating to end-of-life care, who is not a licensed health care professional.
The purpose of the advisory council, according to the bill statement, will be to “conduct a thorough and comprehensive study of all issues that it deems appropriate for the consideration of its members relative to the quality and cost-effectiveness of, and access to, end-of-life care services for all persons in this State, and to develop and present policy recommendations relating thereto for the consideration of State agencies, policymakers, health care providers, and third party payers.”
The bill states the council’s “overriding concern” should be “to promote an end-of-life care paradigm in which patients’ wishes are paramount and they are provided with dignified and respectful treatment that seeks to alleviate their physical pain and mental anguish as much as possible.”
A report from the council will be forwarded to the governor and the legislature 18 months after its organization. After the report is issued, the council will be dissolved.