Friday, October 30, 2015

Learning about end-of-life care

The "death panel" frenzy propounded by Sarah Palin and an army of uninformed and ill-intentioned allies when the administration proposed paying physicians for conversations with their patients about end-of-life care has come to a quiet conclusion.

Medicare  has finally authorized payment for advanced care planning "at the discretion of the beneficiary" in both the outpatient and hospital setting. These discussions require sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and time. Medicare will pay $86 for the first 30 minutes and up to $75 more for 30 additional minutes. The fee is far from lucrative when overhead costs for maintaining an office are taken into consideration, but it recognizes and compensates physicians for a core medical responsibility - collaborating with patients at every phase of life.

The moral of this happy story is that although it took six years, it shows that we are capable of moving beyond disinformation and hysteria and understanding what caring medical practice requires!

(For previous posts about "death panels" see herehere, here and here.)

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