Posted by | December 26, 2010 11:16 | Filed under: Top Stories

President Obama will pay doctors under the Medicare plan who help patients with end-of-life planning, an issue dropped in the health care legislation but achievable via regulation.

The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.

Of course, end-of-life planning makes sense, and this policy works to inform people of options when they are still healthy enough to make decisions so there are no misunderstandings later. But opponents will claim the government will use this plan to deny care.

Elizabeth D. Wickham, executive director of LifeTree, which describes itself as “a pro-life Christian educational ministry,” said she was concerned that end-of-life counseling would encourage patients to forgo or curtail care, thus hastening death.

“The infamous Section 1233 is still alive and kicking,” Ms. Wickham said. “Patients will lose the ability to control treatments at the end of life.”

Several Democratic members of Congress, led by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon (pictured) and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, had urged the administration to cover end-of-life planning as a service offered under the Medicare wellness benefit. A national organization of hospice care providers made the same recommendation.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.