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NY Hospice Association Takes Neutral Position on Medical Aid in Dying Act

With the legislative session winding down this week, the Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) Act may be more likely to be enacted as a result of the neutral position that the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State has now taken. It did so after the bill was amended to incorporate an excellent provision that it recommended. This provision requires that the attending physician to whom a request for medical aid in dying is made "provide health literate and culturally appropriate educational material regarding hospice and palliative care that has been prepared by the department (of health) in consultation with representatives of hospice and palliative care providers from all regions of New York state, and that is available on the department's website for access and download." In recognition that development of these materials may take time, it notes that an otherwise eligible patient cannot be denied care if these materials are not developed by the effective date of the law. End of Life Choices New York was intimately involved in the negotiation of this provision, which we strongly support, as well as other proposed amendments. We firmly believe that the vast majority of patients seeking and accessing MAID should be receiving hospice care, because it is clear that hospice is able to effectively relieve the suffering of almost all patients. The requirement to provide patients with educational material will likely increase the number receiving hospice care at life's end, and some may elect to no longer pursue MAID as they find that hospice care adequately relieves their suffering.

We commend the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State for taking a neutral position on the MAID Act. We are unaware of any other state hospice association doing so prior to the enactment of MAID laws, even though many hospice health professionals are individually very supportive of MAID as an end of life option.

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