Guest Column From State Representative Louis Blessing
Palliative Care an Important Part of Handling Serious Illness

Many of us Ohioans are familiar with the effects of serious, painful illnesses. Whether they be of illnesses dealt in one’s own life or that of a family member or close friend, each of us holds memories of individuals and families struggling through serious sicknesses.

As your state representative and a fellow Ohioan, I see any effort to help the victims, survivors, and the families affected by serious illness as an opportunity for our state government to do its job—to make life better for Ohioans.

In late 2017, the Ohio House passed House Bill 286, a bill designed to increase access to palliative care, which works to reduce the symptoms and pains associated with serious illnesses. Through reducing such symptoms and illnesses, many Ohioans could see an improvement of their quality of life.

Now under consideration in the Ohio Senate, this bill’s passage by the legislature would land this legislation on Governor Kasich’s desk. If signed into law, the bill would establish an Ohio Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary Council and a Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Education Program.

Both of these new organizations would work with the Ohio Department of Health on issues related to informing Ohioans about and raising awareness for palliative care. Working to educate and provide, to prevent as much pain as possible through care, these organizations would improve Ohioans’ quality of life through designing individualized care plans appropriate for people suffering from severe illnesses and debilitating pain.

House Bill 286 is a common-sense fix for many Ohioans. It will reduce the real pain and suffering of those with a serious illness while also making a difference in the lives of those close to the affected individual. In a broader sense, the bill will also bring palliative care into the spotlight, allowing for its further integration into common medical practices. The more common the practice of palliative care, the more access Ohioans have to information and application of this valuable kind of care.

Given how common serious illnesses are, and how much people suffer from them, Ohio ought to move forward and pass House Bill 286 into law—a chance to lessen the amount of pain felt here.

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