How patients are treated and cared for in their last few months of life has important implications for both health care spending and the quality of patients' lives -- and deaths. The highly politicized debate over end-of-life care leading up to passage of the Affordable Care Act framed the issue in black-and-white terms, as a choice between cure versus care, hospital versus hospice.
The most recent Dartmouth Atlas, Quality of End-of-Life Cancer Care for Medicare Beneficiaries Regional and Hospital-Specific Analyses, brings the discussion back to the needs and wants of patients and their families. The report found that as many as one-third of dying Medicare cancer patients received invasive treatment in their last month of life, even when they were cared for by some of the nation's most prestigious academic medical centers. This study reinforces previous findings that the end-of-life care patients receive often falls short of their desires and wishes, and those of their families.
Please join the New America Foundation and a distinguished panel of experts for a lunchtime discussion examining the implications of the Dartmouth findings on end-of-life care. The discussion will focus on the role of palliative and hospice care in cancer treatment and examine the causes and consequences of the wide variation in patterns of cancer care. Lunch will be available at 12PM.