While it is not exactly a pleasant topic to think about, many people in New Jersey may have opinions on what kind of end-of-life care they receive. Some may not want to remain on life support if they are in a vegetative state. Some may decide that if they are struck by a fatal illness, they want to enter into hospice care. And, some people may want physicians to take every possible step to keep them alive as long as possible.
Leaders at the New Jersey Department of Human Services recognized this issue and have extended the Medicaid program to cover advanced care planning. Patients can fill out advanced directives or Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment forms, which are now available online. An electronic database that would make these forms accessible to medical care providers across New Jersey is also in the works.
It is hoped that by expanding Medicaid benefits to cover advance-care planning, not only will patients’ end-of-life wishes be met, but it could save the state money that would otherwise be spent on medical care that is not necessary and not wanted. DHS had previously expanded Medicaid coverage for costs that go beyond traditional medical care, such as smoking cessation and diabetes education.
When it comes to affording desired end-of-life care, people need to have all the information necessary to make educated choices. These choices are also very personal. It is important for people to have the financial resources they need, through Medicaid or otherwise, to make Medicaid planning decisions that are in their best interests.