The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced yesterday a proposal to reimburse physicians for counseling Medicare patients on end-of-life planning. This proposal follows the recommendations of multiple large physician and healthcare organizations including the AMA, ACP and AARP. The proposal is still pending and the final rule change is due November 1 with payments starting January 1.
Reimbursement for end-of-life planning was initially included in the early stages of the Affordable Care Act but was removed after strong political opposition from groups who argued that it would lead to the creation of “death panels”. Sarah Palin famously said during her 2008 presidential run “Government needs to stay the hell out of our end-of-life discussions”.
While many physicians already engage in end-of-life planning discussions with their patients, the establishment of a formal reimbursement structure would undoubtedly lead to increased utilization.
What are your thoughts? Would Medicare reimbursements change your willingness to engage in advanced care planning with your patients?