Good news! Governor Brown has signed SB 294 (Hernandez) into law.  This bill explicitly allows a licensed hospice to provide palliative care services concurrently with curative treatment to a person who does not have a terminal prognosis or who has not elected to receive hospice services. (Read our earlier blog posts on this bill here.) The law is effective January 1, 2018.

The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California co-sponsored SB 294 with the California Hospice and Palliative Care Association (CHAPCA).

The original impetus behind the bill was to clarify a gray area of law. Specifically, if a hospice provided palliative care services to a non-hospice patient, could the hospice nurse perform skilled nursing services? Or was the hospice nurse’s services limited to assessment?

The final language in the bill goes beyond the original concept behind the bill and reflects a compromise with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which expressed concerns about the bill.  As signed into law, SB 294 essentially creates a “pilot” to observe and measure the effects of hospice providers offering palliative care services.

Hospices wanting to provide palliative care services to non-hospice patients must register their intent with CDPH at least 45 days before they start offering services. CDPH is prohibited from collecting any fees for this filing. Once hospices start serving patients, they’ll need to report annually on the types of services they provided, patients they saw, and more­­—including complaints from patients and any staffing changes.

This new law sunsets January 1, 2022. At that point, data collected must be reported on by CDPH and then a decision can be made to extend the bill further.

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