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Feds to Consider Paying Doctors for End-of-Life Planning (Death Panels Resurrected)
Stateline ^ | June 1, 2014 | Michael Ollove

Posted on 06/02/2014 9:36:04 AM PDT by abb

The federal government may reimburse doctors for talking to Medicare patients and their families about “advance care planning,” including living wills and end-of-life treatment options — potentially rekindling one of the fiercest storms in the Affordable Care Act debate.

A similar provision was in an early draft of the federal health care law, but in 2009, former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin took to Facebook to accuse President Barack Obama of proposing “death panels” to determine who deserved life-sustaining medical care. Amid an outcry on the right, the provision was stripped from the legislation.

Now, quietly, the proposal is headed toward reconsideration — this time through a regulatory procedure rather than legislation.

The American Medical Association soon will issue recommendations on what doctors should be paid for advance care planning, or conferring with patients about the care they would want if they were incapacitated. Every year, the AMA makes reimbursement recommendations on a broad range of procedures and services to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers the Medicare program and works with state governments to administer Medicaid. CMS and private insurers don’t have to follow AMA’s recommendations, but they typically do.

Medicare is the country’s largest health insurer. It has about 50 million beneficiaries, most of them over 65.

Geriatricians, oncologists and other medical specialists who see gravely ill patients say it’s crucial to elicit a patient’s wishes for treatment and other pastoral or psychological supports in a dire medical situation. Would a particular patient, for instance, want to pursue additional procedures that, while grueling, offer some slim possibility of success? Or would the patient want doctors to intervene only to alleviate pain?

If Medicare reimburses doctors for such discussions, as it pays them for examining patients and performing procedures, they are much more likely to happen.

Some private insurers, including Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield of New York, already reimburse doctors who help patients with advance care planning. Under Medicaid, states largely determine what medical services are covered. At least two states, Oregon and Colorado, provide reimbursement for advance care planning. In Colorado, doctors can be compensated up to $80 for a 30-minute conversation to discuss advance care planning.

“We are doing this to incentivize providers to have these conversations with our clients,” said Judy Zerzan, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Health Policy.

Phillip Rodgers, a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School and a member of the AMA group that makes compensation recommendations, said a decision by Medicare to approve reimbursement for advance care conversations would allow patients to control decision-making as their medical options narrow. Compensating doctors for such discussions would be an acknowledgement that, “these conversations are a highly beneficial service that makes certain that the care we provide is the right care based on the patients’ wishes,” he said.

Studies show that when given a choice, patients often forgo invasive procedures at the end of life. Such procedures can be costly while doing little to extend or improve the quality of the patient’s life.

But some people fear that end-of-life conversations could lead to rationing health care or withholding it entirely.

Burke Balch, director of the Powell Center for Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee, said he wasn’t aware of the AMA’s proposal. But Balch expressed concern that the measure would result in the “denial of life-saving medical treatment.”

“It is one thing genuinely to determine what people’s treatment wishes are but the danger is very grave that efforts to pay for advance care planning sessions (under) Medicare will turn into subtle efforts to pressure some of the most vulnerable patients to surrender their right to live,” Balch said. ‘Death Panel’ Debate

Like the current proposal, the provision that sparked controversy in 2009 would have provided Medicare reimbursement to doctors who used office time to discuss living wills, advance care planning or other matters pertaining to patients’ end-of-life preferences. It did not require such conversations, but ensured that doctors or other practitioners would be compensated for these often difficult sessions.

Then Sarah Palin weighed in. “The America I know and love,” she wrote in a now infamous Facebook post, “is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's ‘death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care.”

“Such a system is downright evil," she wrote.

Whether it was a willful misrepresentation of the actual proposal or a misreading of it (PolitiFact, a fact-checking operation run by the Tampa Bay Times, described Palin’s posting as the “Lie of the Year.”) Palin’s broadside ignited an outpouring of criticism on conservative media. Other Republicans, including then-House Republican leader John Boehner, picked up the refrain. "This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia if enacted into law," he said.

It wasn’t long before the provision was scrubbed from the bill. Two years later, the administration proposed a similar measure through regulation, but withdrew it out of fear of sparking another controversy. Request from Illinois

The current effort began last year, when the Illinois State Medical Society recommended that the AMA adopt specific medical codes for the reimbursement of doctors for advance care conversations. Medical codes provide a uniform description of hundreds of medical procedures and services and are used by medical providers, hospitals and insurers across the country. In response to the Illinois request, an AMA panel approved a new code for advance planning.

In the absence of a code, doctors who want to have such conversations with their patients have had to squeeze them into medical appointments ostensibly held for another purpose. Many providers say that forces them to give short shrift to a discussion intended to help a patient — and often, family members — understand all the medical options and the risks associated with each one. Those sessions take time and delicacy, doctors say, and shouldn’t have to be fitted in among other medical procedures or exams.

“It may take up to two hours to bring everyone to an understanding of the situation and the various options,” said Thomas J. Smith, an oncologist and director of palliative care at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Furthermore, there is no current reimbursement for phone consultations, for instance with relatives who don’t live in the area. It’s also not easy to get reimbursement for patients who are well but still want to discuss advance directives.

“You essentially have to be deceitful to get paid to do advance care planning for the patient who doesn’t have a medical illness,” said Christopher A. Jones, an assistant professor of palliative care at Duke University.

“The federal government places no value on this conversation. None,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, a Democrat who is sponsoring a bill that would require reimbursement for advance care planning.

“If reimbursement occurs at all in the federal program, it’s incidental to the primary treatment or somebody miscodes, and that’s not the way it should be,” Blumenauer said. “Under the best of circumstances, this is a difficult conversation for both doctors and families alike that takes time and focused attention.”

The lack of compensation for advance care discussions is part of a broader pattern: Doctors who perform procedures, such as surgeons, generally are paid more than those who examine and counsel, such a geriatricians and internists. Studies consistently show that the compensation for “proceduralists“ is three times or more higher than that of primary care doctors and others whose practices usually involve diagnosis and noninvasive treatment.

In Congress, Blumenauer is hopeful his bill will get a hearing free of any death panel outcry. It helps, he said, that among his 30 co-sponsors are a number of Republicans, all of whom oppose the ACA.

“They know this is not about the ACA at all,” Blumenauer said by phone from Oregon. “I don’t care if you’re for the ACA or against it or don’t care one way or the other. This is legislation that is supported by 90 percent of the public."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 0carenightmare; aca; deathpanelbonus; deathpanels; medicare; obamacare; obamacaredoctors; sarahpalin; zerocare
Was there ever any doubt?
1 posted on 06/02/2014 9:36:04 AM PDT by abb
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To: abb
I'm against Obamacare, but this is very unfair and misleading. People die, and the opportunity for humane end-of-life planning can be extraordinarily helpful for both the patient and the family members. This is also an opportunity to give the patient a real choice between a peaceful and supportive last days, or weeks of useless, expensive cancer treatments that often speed up the patient’s death, rather than extend their life, inflicting more misery on the family members as well. Don't get on the wrong side of this argument. Big money moves a lot of the recommended late-stage treatments, not humanity.
2 posted on 06/02/2014 9:43:38 AM PDT by binreadin
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To: abb
You get a bonus for every peasant who croaks.
3 posted on 06/02/2014 9:44:15 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum ("The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government." --Tacitus)
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To: abb
This is all a lie. I know it because it was Sarah Palin who warned us about death panels from the beginning. And Sarah Palin just can't know what she's talking about because...well, because the elites keep telling me so.

The satanic left wouldn't lie, would they?

4 posted on 06/02/2014 9:44:49 AM PDT by Paulie (Buy local, bank local, exert your influence locally; the left will fold like a cheap suit.)
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To: abb

Ah, so now there’s actual bonus payments for offing “too expensive” seniors.


5 posted on 06/02/2014 9:45:39 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: abb
was there ever any doubt?

I get it that people should not be denied medications or treatments that improve or extend their lives. I also get it that there's no way to pay for the medical care if there aren't some restraints on what's covered.

It's a dilemma we discussed in philosophy class in college in the 1960s. What happens when medical treatment gets so expensive that there's no way to cover its costs, except for the very wealthy? We've reached that point. The only answer would be to find less expensive treatment options.

Instead, big pharma is doing everything in its power to stifle natural and inexpensive treatments.

6 posted on 06/02/2014 9:49:29 AM PDT by grania
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To: abb

There was never any doubt about this.
I knew they would use our money to pay for abortions, aids treatment, sex “change” operations, and hasty deaths for the elderly.


7 posted on 06/02/2014 9:51:47 AM PDT by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible. Complicit in the destruction of this country.)
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To: abb

The veterinary term is “Final Care.”


8 posted on 06/02/2014 9:55:46 AM PDT by pabianice (LINE)
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To: All



9 posted on 06/02/2014 10:01:32 AM PDT by onyx (Please Support Free Republic - Donate Monthly! If you want on Sarah Palin's Ping List, Let Me know!)
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To: binreadin; abb
RE :”People die, and the opportunity for humane end-of-life planning can be extraordinarily helpful for both the patient and the family members. This is also an opportunity to give the patient a real choice between a peaceful and supportive last days, or weeks of useless, expensive cancer treatments that often speed up the patient’s death, rather than extend their life, inflicting more misery on the family members as well. Don't get on the wrong side of this argument. Big money moves a lot of the recommended late-stage treatments, not humanity.”

I agree, Unfortunately I have been through this before with aging relatives, and have seen it go both ways.

Not just that people die, but many also live to a state where they are unable to make decisions and so those that refuse to plan ahead for that leave a big mess behind for someone else to deal with.

My grandmother didn't want to be kept alive long term fed by tubes and so she put that in her living will while she could still reason..And she wanted to die in her own house not a hospital.

10 posted on 06/02/2014 10:11:21 AM PDT by sickoflibs (Obama : 'The debate is over. The time for talk is over. I won. ')
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To: abb

I see MANDATORY Planned Death Seminars in our future which includes making a decision NOW.


11 posted on 06/02/2014 10:12:41 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

“You get a bonus for every peasant who croaks.”

I wonder if it will be like speeding tickets where you have an end of month quota to meet for killing off old people.

I will give the democrats some credit. They know Obamacare is a budget buster. Well here is one manner of addressing that issue.

Kill the old people. Kill them now.


12 posted on 06/02/2014 10:13:36 AM PDT by staytrue
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To: binreadin
This is also an opportunity to give the patient a real choice

Bunk.

13 posted on 06/02/2014 10:18:20 AM PDT by dragonblustar ( Psalm 103, Psalm 37:7, Ephesians 6:12)
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To: Sacajaweau

I guess Adolf Hitler was just “ahead of his time...”


14 posted on 06/02/2014 10:18:33 AM PDT by abb
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To: dragonblustar
This scheme is a real opportunity to coerce the sick, old and ailing into dying quietly, just to save money.
DD has a co worker, widow, and mother of several children, who was just diagnosed with a fast growing cancer. The doctors said they could treat it with a good chance of success, if they started promptly. And under !!#Obamacare**!!
she has insurance coverage and low rates and a subsidy.
But wait, there's more.
Obamacare will not allow her to get treatment for three months with lists and forms and all.
Game over, she is a dead woman walking(ok, not walking much now).
TWB
15 posted on 06/02/2014 11:18:41 AM PDT by TWhiteBear
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To: binreadin; Salvation

Salvation, there is someone here blind to what this really is.

Can you provide those links of how this ‘compassionate’ assistance works with the helping hand of Big Government?

It probably will help others clicking on this thread.


16 posted on 06/02/2014 11:28:46 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (Want to keep your doctor? Remove your Democrat Senator.)
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To: abb

In a country where it’s legal for parents to murder their children, it’s only a matter of time before it’s legal for children to murder their parents.

It’s going to happen, and the ACA only speeds that time.


17 posted on 06/02/2014 11:42:17 AM PDT by GT Vander (Life's priorities; God, Family, Country. Everything else is just details...)
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To: Paulie

Do not go to any doctor who does this. He or she is not a healer. They have turned their back on “ first do no harm” to social engineering.


18 posted on 06/02/2014 12:03:29 PM PDT by amihow
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To: sickoflibs

You can never forsee all the issues in advance. Not wanting cpr when in last stages of terminal disease is not the same as cpr because anesthetic went wrong.

Culture of death is on the march.


19 posted on 06/02/2014 12:07:17 PM PDT by amihow
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To: binreadin

I agree. Providers have been helping patients ease out when life is very painful and nothing can be done for as long as I have been in the medical profession. I have never seen this done when there was hope. I hate it that the feds have to now get involved.


20 posted on 06/02/2014 12:36:52 PM PDT by MarMema (Run Ted Run)
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To: TWhiteBear

And I agree with your post as well. It will be abused.


21 posted on 06/02/2014 12:39:14 PM PDT by MarMema (Run Ted Run)
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To: All


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22 posted on 06/02/2014 12:39:49 PM PDT by musicman (Until I see the REAL Long Form Vault BC, he's just "PRES__ENT" Obama = Without "ID")
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To: amihow
RE :”Not wanting cpr when in last stages of terminal disease is not the same as cpr because anesthetic went wrong.”

I have no idea what that means.

23 posted on 06/02/2014 1:13:25 PM PDT by sickoflibs (Obama : 'The debate is over. The time for talk is over. I won. ')
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To: sickoflibs

Sorry. To say in living will no cpr is not taking into account that cpr for say an allergic reaction is something most would want. Cpr for a person who just stops breathing when terminal is something most would not want. But living wills cannot anticipate all sorts of possibilities.

Better a health care power of attorney given to someone you trust.


24 posted on 06/02/2014 2:29:11 PM PDT by amihow
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To: binreadin

Thank you, I couldn’t have said it better. I was an ICU and PACU RN for most of my career, but am now a Hospice nurse. People need to make educated decisions before the crisis happens.

On the crass financial side of things, 75% or more of health care dollars are spent in the last 6 months of life.
It is easy to say spend it when it is “Government Money”.


25 posted on 06/02/2014 5:49:11 PM PDT by az wildkitten (8 years 'til I retire)
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To: sickoflibs

Your example would never happen. DNR (do not resuscitate) orders are suspended during and immediately after surgery because anesthesia itself carries that risk. Unless a patient specifically tells the anesthesiologist not to resuscitate, which you can be sure will be very well documented and part of the consent for anesthesia, the resuscitation will happen. ICU and Recovery Room RN for 35 years and counting.


26 posted on 06/02/2014 5:54:51 PM PDT by az wildkitten (8 years 'til I retire)
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To: amihow
RE :”To say in living will no cpr is not taking into account that cpr for say an allergic reaction is something most would want. Cpr for a person who just stops breathing when terminal is something most would not want. But living wills cannot anticipate all sorts of possibilities.
Better a health care power of attorney given to someone you trust.”

My grandma gave my mother power of attorney but put in her living will that she shouldn't be kept alive over a week or two with tubes, and it only applied once she could no longer make decisions, and it was obvious at one point in her 90s that she couldnt.

A few times she had emergencies and the hospital put her on tubes short term

In the end she died over 100 in her home,

She knew to make these decisions when she still could.

27 posted on 06/02/2014 8:16:42 PM PDT by sickoflibs (Obama : 'The debate is over. The time for talk is over. I won. ')
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To: az wildkitten
RE:”Your example would never happen. DNR (do not resuscitate) orders are suspended during and immediately after surgery because anesthesia itself carries that risk. Unless a patient specifically tells the anesthesiologist not to resuscitate, which you can be sure will be very well documented and part of the consent for anesthesia, the resuscitation will happen. ICU and Recovery Room RN for 35 years and counting.”

WTF?

I never posted anything about DNR.

Look back.

28 posted on 06/02/2014 8:18:38 PM PDT by sickoflibs (Obama : 'The debate is over. The time for talk is over. I won. ')
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To: binreadin

” People die, and the opportunity for humane end-of-life planning can be extraordinarily helpful for both the patient and the family members.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I’m 81 and my doctor is aware of what I want and what I don’t want. My family has also been advised.

If God wants me,He can have me.

.


29 posted on 06/02/2014 8:28:22 PM PDT by Mears
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To: Mears

“...I’m 81....If God wants me,He can have me...”

Well, we still need you here, so don’t go anywhere yet!!!

Your generation has a lot to teach the younger generation about what it means to be an American.

:^)


30 posted on 06/03/2014 5:13:14 AM PDT by NFHale (The Second Amendment - By Any Means Necessary.)
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To: NFHale

Aren’t you nice.

Thank you.

.


31 posted on 06/03/2014 6:55:38 AM PDT by Mears
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To: Mears

I have a great deal of respect for your generation, and my father’s. He’d be in his 90s were he alive right now.

Americanism needs to be taught to current generations. Your generation understood that basic concept like no other.

I miss it, and I think of other folks do too.


32 posted on 06/03/2014 6:59:00 AM PDT by NFHale (The Second Amendment - By Any Means Necessary.)
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To: NFHale

Most of us grew up with nothing.

My brother and I were born early in The Great Depression,my father died before we entered school,and then came the war.Times were tough,but one thing we all had was love of country.

We lived in a Boston neighborhood and 2 high points of our year were the Memorial Day parade and the Armistice Day parade. Flag waving,cheering,and tears.

Of course all the men of my generation served in the armed forces-—it was required.

I never thought I’d live to see the country we have now.

.


33 posted on 06/03/2014 7:11:40 AM PDT by Mears
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To: Mears

“...Of course all the men of my generation served in the armed forces-—it was required....”

And it made a difference that showed.

My dad was born in 1921. Grew up in the Depression too. His old man died when Dad was 13. Dad went in the Army for WWII, was in an Airborne in Europe, made the jump into Germany. His brothers were in the Pacific.

“...I never thought I’d live to see the country we have now...”

You are not alone, trust me on that.


34 posted on 06/03/2014 7:23:17 AM PDT by NFHale (The Second Amendment - By Any Means Necessary.)
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