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N.H. commission to study, promote palliative care

A new legislative commission dedicated to studying palliative care will begin meeting today and is seeking public input.

“One of the first very basic things we have to do is to have a definition in law of what palliative care means,” said Sen. John Reagan, a Republican from Deerfield. He is a member of the Commission to Study Palliative Care and a sponsor of the bill that formed it this spring.

“It means different things to different people, and that doesn’t help you when you’re trying to write laws,” he said.

At the first meeting, scheduled for today at 10 a.m, he plans to bring information he gathered from 20 other states that have defined palliative care in their statutes.

The commission then will “have to face the problem that about 16 of them only refer to palliative care for terminal patients,” Reagan said.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is raise awareness that palliative care deals with the reduction of pain and the psychological and social and spiritual distress that comes from a life of pain. There are a lot of people living like that, not just terminal patients,” he said.

In the first of only three vetoes she issued this year, Gov. Maggie Hassan rejected a separate bill that would have created a commission to study broader “end-of-life issues,” including “death with dignity.”

“With any discussion of the complex and emotional issues related to end-of-life care, the Governor believes our focus must always be first and foremost on helping all of those in our society to fully live their lives with the dignity that they deserve,” Hassan’s spokesman, Marc Goldberg, said in an emailed statement. She “is confident . . . this commission will approach these issues carefully and thoughtfully.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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