New York State Passes Law to Raise Hospice, Palliative Care Awareness

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed a bill designed to expand awareness of advance care planning, hospice, and palliative care.

The new law requires the New York State Department of Health to develop a public awareness campaign to promote advance care planning. The campaign must include education about hospice and palliative care, according to the newly approved legislation.

“Hospice care was a game changer for my family when we needed it, and yet, many people don’t know the extent of available hospice and palliative care resources, leaving them to feel alone during some of the hardest times and with increased economic hardship,” New York State Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D-Saugerties), co-author of the bill, said in a statement. “That must change.”


Funding for the awareness campaign will come from the state’s health department’s operations budget, a spokesperson from the senator’s office told Hospice News. Work on the campaign will begin after the law becomes effective in early 2023.

Historically, hospice utilization has been low in New York relative to other states. At 30%, the Empire State ranked 50th in utilization among the states and the District of Columbia in 2018, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

About 17.4% of the state’s residents were 65 or older in 2020, making New York 25th that year in population growth among seniors, according to the research organization PRB.


New York is the latest of a number of states that have passed laws to raise awareness about hospice and palliative care — 27 as of December 2018, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP). In subsequent years, Ohio, New Jersey and Kentucky also pursued such legislation.

“A campaign such as this identifies hospice and palliative care providers as integral to every patient’s continuum of care – that this care is not an afterthought or a last resort but a vital, planned, component in a family’s response to the health care needs of the person they love,” Dr. Christopher Comfort, chief operating officer for Calvary Hospital in New York City, told Hospice News.

Calvary is the only acute-care hospital in the United States that focuses almost exclusively on hospice and palliative care.

Lack of awareness and misconceptions about the nature of hospice and palliative care are major barriers that often delay or prevent patients’ access to those services.

As many as 71% of people in the United States have little to no understanding of what palliative care is, including many clinicians in a position to refer patients, a Journal of Palliative Medicine study found.

The New York state law mandates that the forthcoming awareness campaign be inclusive and culturally competent to improve access for underserved populations.

“What’s significant here is that it brings a sense of urgency, gravity, and community to the issue that no one provider can do on its own,” Comfort said. “By summoning the coverage and influence that really only the state can provide, in support of non-profit operators like Calvary, the message is elevated and amplified: Planning for end-of-life care and palliative care is not just important, but essential. And especially critical among communities of color across the state.”