New 2023 Laws Impact End-of-Life Care

Every year, January brings a flurry of new laws as states around the country add or update legislation on everything from new state holidays to jaywalking.

In 2023, some new laws will impact those at the end of life or the people caring for, or grieving, them. Here’s a curated list of those laws we think are most impactful to both groups.

Bereavement leave and caregiving

California has a new law requiring most private and public employers grant employees up to five unpaid days of bereavement leave after the death of a family member. The request must be accepted by the employer as long as it is within three months of the death of a loved one and satisfies the other requirements.

A second law also expands the state’s family leave regulations so caregivers can help their chosen designated person and not just close family members. Besides California, only Oregon, Illinois, and Maryland have state bereavement leave laws covering private employers.

Funeral Rule

While not new legislation, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule is currently under review for possible updates and changes. The consumer law has been on the books since 1984 and regulates many aspects of burials, cremations and the funeral business in general. Since the Funeral Rule became law almost 40 years ago, the commission’s goal is to strengthen and modernize it. The FTC is accepting comment until Jan. 17.

Hospice oversight

California’s governor also recently signed into law AB-2673, a bill that tightens regulation of the state’s hospices and extends its earlier moratorium on granting new licenses to hospice providers. The licensing moratorium is extended under the new legislation and the new state laws call for more training, oversight and regulation.

‘Human composting’

New York is the latest state to allow “organic reduction” also known as “human composting.” The state joins five others that have approved it: California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. California’s law won’t go into effect until 2027 while Vermont’s began with the new year.

Paid leave

For those who need time off of work to have a child, care for a sick loved one or deal with their own serious medical issues, there’s a new program in Oregon starting this September. While working Oregonians will begin paying into the new family leave program this January, Paid Leave Oregon should begin offering up to three months off of protected paid leave in several categories by the fall. The program was approved in 2019 but stalled by the pandemic. Oregon is the 11th state to provide a paid leave program.

Psilocybin therapy

In 2020, Oregonians passed Ballot Measure 109 which legalized the use of psilocybin for use in counseling in a controlled environment for people over 21. The naturally occurring substance has been found to be helpful with anxiety, depression, trauma and addition and studies have found it can increase spiritual well-being, according to state health officials. The state will begin taking license applications in January of 2023 for manufacturers to apply after a two-year study. Some leaders in the end-of-life and palliative care field say counseling using the drug can aid in anxiety about death. Centers may open later in the year.

Lawmakers hope these new 2023 laws will improve the lives of those who need help at the end of life and the people who love them.

Learn more about other new laws for 2023 in California and Oregon and around the country.

Photo: Alpay Tonga

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