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Better Outcomes, Lower Costs: Palliative Care Program Reduces Stress, Costs of Care for Children With Life-Threatening Conditions

August 29, 2012

Policy Brief

Authors: Daphna Gans, PhD, Gerald F. Kominski, PhD, Dylan H. Roby, PhD, Allison L. Diamant, MD, MSHS, Xiao Chen, PhD , Wenjiao Lin, MS, Nina Hohe

This policy brief examines the Partners for Children (PFC) program — California's public pediatric community-based palliative care benefit to children living with life-threatening conditions and their families. Preliminary analysis of administrative and survey data indicates that participation in the PFC program improves quality of life for the child and family. In addition, participation in the program resulted in a one-third reduction in the average number of days spent in the hospital. Shifting care from a hospital setting to in-home community-based care resulted in cost savings of $1,677 per child per month on average — an 11% decrease in spending on a traditionally high-cost population. 

As the three-year pilot program draws to an end, policymakers are considering the advisability of extending the program beyond the 11 counties that now participate. This policy brief provides recommendations that policymakers, families and advocates should consider to ensure sustainability and successful expansion of the program. 

Development of this policy brief was supported by the Children's Hospice & Palliative Care Coaltion (CHPCC), which is supported by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHFC).

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