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Medicare Announces it Will Pay for End of Life Counseling

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced that it will soon cover end of life counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. The announcement comes after a long national conversation over end of life counseling and affairs, one which got increasing attention last year when a notable report stated that the state of affairs of end of life care in the U.S. was flawed and in need of an overhaul. Learn more about Medicare’s latest announcement, in our blog.

end-of-life-counseling

Medicare will begin covering end of life counseling in January.

Medicare Announces it Will Pay for End of Life Counseling

“The plan would allow qualified professionals like nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as well as doctors, to be reimbursed for face-to-face meetings with a patient and any relatives or caregivers the patient wants to include,” according to the New York Times. In addition, there will be no limit on the number of conversations that can be had. This facet of the proposal that is designed to ensure that patients can proceed at their own pace when it comes to discussing end of life care options, a subject which in many cases is not easily broached. This also ensures that patients will be better able to understand all of their options.

Understanding options for end of life care has recently become a more prominent issue in health care for seniors in the U.S. The population is aging, but it is also living longer as life expectancies rise. More and more seniors wanted to learn about their options for end of life care, “deciding, for example, whether they want to die at home or in the hospital, or under what circumstances they would want life-sustaining treatment.”

However, many seniors found that they weren’t able to get the information they were looking for, in part due to the fact that these conversations were not covered by Medicare. Attempts to bring end of life planning coverage to Medicare in 2009 and 2010 stalled due to political disagreements. Things came to a head last year, when “a national nonpartisan panel of medical, legal and religious leaders issued a far-reaching report saying that the country’s system for dealing with end-of-life care was seriously flawed and should be overhauled. Among its recommendations was that insurers reimburse health providers for advance care planning conversations.”

The new plan is now subject to a 60 public comment period, and is expected to go into effect in January 2016.

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