Sunday, December 26, 2010

This time they'll call it government over-reach

I always thought one of the stupidest battles in the health care reform fight was over the so-called "death panels" which was ultimately named "The Lie of 2009." It appears this very useful counseling will survive after all. It couldn't be enacted by law, but end of life counseling will be enabled by regulation starting January 1, 2010 2011.
Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

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.
As Kay at Balloon Juice points out, this shouldn't be a big deal:
Advanced directives aren’t controversial. They aren’t new. Ohio’s law went in nineteen years ago. They aren’t frightening. There are provisions in all fifty states for anyone to draft an advanced directive, with or without a lawyer. All this rule change does is allow Medicare to pay doctors for a consult on the medical issues surrounding end of life care.
It seems only fair that doctors should be able to charge for their time for this sort of important consult. And everyone really should make their wishes clear well before the end of their life in any event.

I executed what in Massachusetts is called a living will, along with the required health care proxy, ten years ago myself. It costs a little to have a lawyer do it, but the forms are simple enough and likely available on the internet for free, so that anyone could draw one up themselves and simply pay a notary a couple bucks to witness the signatures.

[Thanks Mike, without your gracious linkage, this little blog would be nothing.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You probably meant Jan 1, 2011

10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Ruth said...

The Living Will is not just a good thing for helping out the patient's family, it is kindness for the actual maker of the will. When there is no clear directive, medical personnel will have to keep the victim alive when that involves incredible suffering, and in my experience despite the victim's wish to be allowed to let go.

11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Yikes. So I did. Thanks anon.

Indeed Ruth. The extraordinary measures taken to prolong life for just a little while longer are so often more cruel than allowing someone to die with dignity. That's why I did my living will so many years ago.

11:35:00 AM  

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