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Senator Warner has introduced health reform legislation that improves the quality and increases the availability of counseling, support services, and care management for patients and families with a limited life expectancy.  

The Senior Navigation and Planning Act of 2009:

  • enhances Medicare and Medicaid coverage of advanced illness care management services;
  • requires doctors to provide patients with information on living wills and other planning tools;
  • gives providers incentives to achieve accreditation and certification in hospice and palliative care;
  • encourages more comprehensive discharge planning; and
  • increases public awareness about the importance of end-of-life planning. 

Here are Senator Warner's remarks on the Senate floor today, followed by endorsements from the AARP and the Alzheimer's Foundation of America:

The Roanoke Times ran a front-page article this morning highlighting the details of the legislation:

A key piece of Warner's Senior Navigation and Planning Act of 2009 seeks to address the educational and awareness gap when it comes to end-of-life care. Besides directing the Department of Health and Human Services to implement a national educational campaign on planning for care at the end of life, the bill requires physicians to share information on advance directives, or "living wills," and other planning tools with patients who have certain terminal diagnoses such as end-stage renal disease, cancer or congestive heart failure.

Under the bill, beginning in 2014, Medicare reimbursements would be withheld from physicians who did not follow this requirement.

Additionally, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies and hospice programs would be required to provide information to patients concerning the general course of treatment expected and the likely effect on the length of life of various treatment options.

Besides requiring providers to give information to patients, the bill sets up an incentive of bonus Medicare payments for hospitals and other facilities that become accredited in hospice and palliative care. After 2020, facilities that aren't accredited would see Medicare reimbursements trimmed by 1 percent.

Senator Warner's Senior Navigation and Planning Act received support from leading health groups, including:

  • AARP 
  • National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
  • Alzheimer's Foundation of America
  • Duke University Divinity School
  • National Respite Coalition
  • Well Spouse Association
  • UnitedHealth Group
  • Aetna
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • American Association for Long Term Care Nursing 
  • National Association for Home Care & Hospice

Click here for more information on the details of the legislation and to read the endorsements.  

RELATED: In March, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot highlighted the conversation Senator Warner began within the health care community.  On June 17, the Staunton News Leader praised the Senator's "courageous" bill.