Rep. Baumbach: End-of-life care group a step forward

 

This letter was published in today's (Wilmington) News Journal

 

I want to thank the Delaware Health Care Commission for its recent creation of a new work group to explore the establishment of a Delaware End of Life Advisory Council, serving what I believe will be an essential function given Delaware’s rapidly changing demographics. As a member of the work group, I look forward to productive public meetings and the work group’s recommendations, which are due to the General Assembly by the end of March.

I understand that talking about what we want for ourselves and our loved ones when we are near the end can be a sensitive subject. And, as hard as those conversations can be, public policy debates about end-of-life issues are even more complicated. I know this all too well as the sponsor of a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to choose the time of their own deaths, in close consultation with their doctors and under strict parameters.

However, we can’t let the discomfort keep us from talking about the decisions we all will face. We need to tackle basic questions, such as who decides what happens when a patient is close to death, and when those decisions are made. We also need to face the harder questions about our own wishes and the options that we want available to us in our last days.

I am very appreciative of the Health Care Commission’s decision to make this critical issue a priority, placing Delaware on a path to lead in the area of end-of-life support for our citizens.

Paul Baumbach

Newark