Divisive Debate Drives Maine to Improve End-of-Life Care

Development of a statewide collaborative program to improve end-of-life care

Between January 1999 and June 2002, the Maine Consortium for Palliative Care and Hospice worked with a range of groups to help provide reliable information that could help craft new legislation to improve end-of-life care in Maine—including an increase in its Medicaid hospice reimbursement rate and a mandate that its private insurers pay for hospice care.

The work came at a time of divisive referenda that sought to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state.

The Maine Hospice Council of Manchester, Maine, managed the project.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Community-State Partnerships to Improve End-of-Life Care.

Key Results

  • Project staff supplied information and survey data useful to the state legislature for debates on physician-assisted suicide and ways to improve end-of-life care.
  • Project staff helped develop six local coalitions, whose members provided information to their communities on hospice and solicited public input on end-of-life care.
  • Consortium partners worked collaboratively to develop better education for physicians and medical students.
  • The Maine Council of Churches worked to engage the faith communities in dialogues concerning end-of-life care.