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End-of-Life Counseling: What the Bill Says and Why It Matters

Posted Aug 27 2009 11:36pm

Does the “end-of-life counseling provision in the House health care reform bill put us on the road to euthanasia? Or is it good news for patients?  tracheal intubation

I’ve already said I think it’s good news.  Too few people realize that decisions at the end-of-life are often a trade off:  For a longer life, you can pay with a great deal of agony.  That’s a totally personal decision, but one you should discuss with your doctor and family to make sure your wishes are followed.

Apparently, all the accusations about death panels and euthanasia are at least bringing more attention to this question, as Kaiser Health News reports:  “Jon Radulovic, vice president for communications at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, says the debate dispute “is providing the end-of-life care community with an opportunity to talk about what good care is and the services that are available.”

For anyone who is still wondering what this provision (section 1233) says, Kaiser also has a great piece describing the provision along with an excerpt.

Until now, they explain, there was no specific law stating that Medicare should reimburse doctors for end-of-life counseling. “Currently, physicians generally classify the conversations under a funding code covering counseling and discussion of issues such as marital problems and depression associated with a job loss…”

The new House bill  “requires Medicare reimburse doctors and other practitioners for consultations covering a range of information, including information about living wills and power of attorney.”

So, doctors have already been doing the counseling, and now it would just be eaiser to get paid for it and they’d probably make more money doing it.  Some people think that all life-saving procedures should always be done, but clearly others do not agree.  Once you sit down with a medical professional and go through a health care proxy or living will, you might be shocked at what would be in store for you if you don’t plan ahead.

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