End-of -life talks with doctors may soon be covered by Medicare

According to an article in today’s New York Times, private insurers have started to reimburse doctors for advance care planning conversations about how chronically ill persons want to spend their final days. In addition, Medicare might start covering end-of-life planning discussions if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agree to cover this service. The American Medical Association has asked CMS to approve these payments.

For some in the medical community, the end-of-life planning is long overdue as it helps to lend clarity and encourages communication among family members about sensitive and difficult issues. For others this issue is controversial.

The concern is that physicians might deny lifesaving care and as such might be hastening death because of poor quality of life. Doctors say this isn’t the case. Studies show too that such conversations give people choices as people prefer to be at home in their final days but often are sent into institutions as the conversations have never taken place in time.

The topic is bound to create political turmoil in the next several months.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers