For those of you who have followed Jewish Sacred Aging posts here and on our Facebook page, you will recall that we have long been in favor of having individuals and families have “the conversation” about advance care planning. One of the more requested workshops from Jewish Sacred Aging is on “Making Sacred Decisions at the End of Life”. Thus,we welcomed the news on Wednesday July 8 that Medicare is planning to reimburse doctors and other qualified health care professionals who engage in discussions with patients on this issue.
In a statement by the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC: www.thectac.org) attention is paid to the impact of this decision on Baby Boomers: “As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age and our population grows older, it is critical to ensure that individuals have the opportunity to engage in voluntary advance care planning discussion with their clinician and that provides are properly reimbursed for their services. Doing so is critical to supporting an approach to care delivery that is high-quality, comprehensive, and person centered.” The need for this reimbursement schedule cannot be over stated. Less than 30% of the American population has advance directives and, as discussions in my workshops have pointed out, often these directives have not reviewed for years and thus have not taken into consideration new developments in medical technology or changes in a person’s wishes.
From our community’s perspective, it is important to remember that the majority of our community’s denominational structures favor having such conversations and thus, these directives. It is no coincidence, I think, that this move comes as the choice in dying movement gains momentum. Indeed, a previous blog on our Facebook page (July 5) highlighted this cause based on a recent issue of The Economist(June 30-July 3, 2015). This issue, as we see, is of increasing interest to Boomers. As you consider programming for your synagogue, agency or organization for next year, please consider this issue for discussion. There is much guidance from the Jewish tradition that can enlighten our people. We need to educate for the more education and awareness on this matter the less stress and strain when decision must be made.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.