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Medicare Proposes to Cover Doctors who Discuss "End of Life" Decisions With Seniors

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    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have proposed a rules change that will finally reimburse doctors who conduct "end of life" discussions with their patients who are nearing death. The official title of this is actually called “advance care planning” and is due to go into effect on January 1, 2016.

    You may recall hearing about this topic during the Obamacare debate, but you likely heard about it under a different name: death panels. That scary, yet wholly misleading, red herring torpedoed that proposed rule from making its way into the final wording of Obamacare, much to the chagrin of medical professionals.

    The problem with that is that medical professionals then wouldn't get paid for their time when they have a conversation with their terminally ill patient and their family about what can be done to make the patient as comfortable as possible as they approach the end. Doctor's also wouldn't get paid for having a discussion with a patient who may not be approaching the end of their life, but has a condition, like dementia, that will eventually cloud their judgment so they have the discussion with that patient about their healthcare wishes before the dementia takes over completely.

    So the only thing that is changing with this new rule is that doctors will finally be getting reimbursed for the work they are already doing. They were never prevented from discussing "end of life" decisions with any of their patients, they just didn't get paid for it. Come January 1, that will finally change.

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    Good. Truth is that not getting paid to have this talk with patients has no doubt at least influenced some doctors all across the country. Time is money for doctors, and they have unbelievably stacked schedules.

    I can imagine countless scenarios where, even against their moral judgement, they have decided it not 'worth their time' to discuss this already uncomfortable and difficult plans with patients. Thankfully they won't have to make this decision anymore based solely upon 'is it worth my time where I could be making actual money on the next patient'.

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    J.K.Logic Wrote: I can imagine countless scenarios where, even against their moral judgement, they have decided it not 'worth their time' to discuss this already uncomfortable and difficult plans with patients. Thankfully they won't have to make this decision anymore based solely upon 'is it worth my time where I could be making actual money on the next patient'.

    That's a great point. I have a feeling you are right. Hopefully doctors will now be able to have more open and honest discussions with their patients about their end of life wishes now that this is finally being addressed.

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    I am really happy that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are finally moving forward with this rule change. It's important that doctors have all of the tools at their disposal so they can give their patients the best advice they can. Paying for them to have a sober talk about end of life decisions should be a no brainer.