Let’s talk. Doctor and patient via http://www.shutterstock.com
byAssociate professor at University of Michigan
“On July 8, Medicare announced plans to reimburse physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants for services to help their patients plan the care they would want if they were too ill to speak for themselves. If approved, the plan will take effect in January 2016.
“It’s about time.
“I am a palliative care provider and a researcher in end-of-life care. In my experience, these kinds of services, called ‘advance care planning’ (ACP), are incredibly valuable, especially to patients who are older and their families. My colleagues and I have found that 43% of elderly Americans require decision-making at the end of life about such things as life support and CPR. But 70% of them lack the capacity to make those decisions for themselves or to communicate them to others.
“Reimbursing these services removes one obstacle to making sure that patients actually receive advance care planning. It will signal to clinicians that ACP is something Americans value to the point that they are willing to pay for it. That, in turn, will empower Americans to demand and expect this necessary, but often neglected, service.”