Medicare Payment for End-of-Life Care Conversations: Experts Assess the Road Ahead
After almost 20 years, nine Congressional terms, three presidents, and dozens of failed bills, doctors can now receive payment from Medicare for the time they spend talking with patients about their preferences for end-of-life care.
Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a new rule and payment codes for these conversations, which go into effect January 1, 2016. Last week, I hosted an expert panel to discuss this milestone moment on WIHI, IHI’s bi-weekly, free “talk show.”
Panelists were all hopeful about the change, citing payment as an essential step. But they also expressed concern about challenges ahead. How will primary care providers find time for the 30-minute conversations on advance care planning? How will practices learn the skills to handle this topic, too, when they are already concerned about a host of other issues, from medication management, chronic disease, behavioral health integration, patient safety, and social determinants of health?
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