On August 6, 2012, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the health care cost containment legislation. This second part of Massachusetts’ health care reform emphasizes the transition of a health care system that pays providers based on volume to one that provides incentives for better coordination of care by avoiding costly hospital re-admissions, keeping patients healthy through preventive and wellness services and ensuring that patients receive only the care they need and want. The first phase of Massachusetts’ landmark health care reform legislation, passed in 2006, ensured that every resident in the state would be able to obtain health care coverage. Massachusetts has been quite successful in that endeavor with 98% of residents being covered.
“We need to move past our hesitation in talking about dying and accept the fact that we are not immortal,” says Dr. Ira Byock, author of The Best Care Possible and director of palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “Once we accept that fact, we can focus on how to provide the best care possible for those who are incurable.”
For more than 30 years, Ira has worked with patients and their families to make difficult decisions about care. “The fundamental nature of illness is personal,” says Ira. The palliative care approach lends itself well to improving the quality of life and personal experience of serious illness, including the dying process.