CMS says it wants to pay for end of life counseling

July 8, 2015 in Medical Technology

After years of controversy surrounding the matter, the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services is now proposing that it pay doctors to conduct end of life counseling with patients.

Buried deep inside a proposed new rule slated for publication in the next Federal Register, the agency explained that, having agreed last year to consider whether or not to pay for Advanced Care Planning – which includes the “explanation and discussion of advance directives” – it now wants to begin reimbursing doctors in 2016.

“We received many public comments to the final rule recommending that we make separate payment for ACP services, in view of the time required to furnish the services and their importance for the quality of care and treatment of the patient,” CMS wrote.

CMS is wading into the notorious “death panel” waters with its new rule. Indeed, political battles kept a similar provision out of the Affordable Care Act, and the new rule that circulated Wednesday is open to public comment and, as such, likely to draw its share of criticism.

“We seek comment on this proposal, including whether payment is needed and what type of incentives this proposal creates,” CMS noted. “In addition, we seek comment on whether payment for advance care planning is appropriate in other circumstances such as an optional element, at the beneficiary’s discretion, of the annual wellness visit.” 

What’s your opinion? Should the federal goverment pay for advanced are planning? And if it does how long will it take commercial payers to follow suit? 

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