New York lawmakers are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill creating a statewide public awareness campaign meant to promote advance care planning and the use of hospice and palliative care in the state.

The bill, approved toward the end of the legislative session earlier this year, would have the state Department of Health conduct the campaign to promote planning of advance care services.

Hospice and palliative care is meant to provide patients with comfortable, end-of-life care in order to help control pain and manage symptoms while also giving support to families. New York has ranked at the bottom when it comes to Medicare hospice utilization.

“I know from personal experience how critically important it is to have conversations about advance care planning with your loved ones. This legislation is intended to encourage everyone to talk to their loved ones about their medical care wishes so that, God forbid the need arises, your loved one will know how to honor your wishes,” said Assemblymember Wallace. “This legislation will also raise awareness of the importance of hospice and palliative care in New York State.”

Lawmakers pointed to 30% of Medicare decedents in the state being enrolled in hospice care at the time of their death in 2018, the lowerst of every state except for Alaska.

Health care providers who offer palliative and hospice services have also backed the bill to support the public awareness campaign.

“Public awareness about hospice and palliative care, as well as advance care planning, is so necessary in today’s healthcare space as it helps us to better provide care and support to those in the community, dealing with serious illness," said Cary Cisti, the chief clinical operations officer at Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo.

Lawmakers in New York have sought in recent years to shore up support for elder health care. Wallace has supported extensions to the state's long-term ombudsman program to provide better oversight of the state's nursing homes.

A different bill approved earlier this year would have the state Department of Health create a director of hospice and palliative care with the goal of making it easier for New Yorkers to access those services.