• Death panels die, not with a bang, but with a whimper

    I missed this over the weekend. That’s how big a splash it made:

    Six years after legislation to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a furor over “death panels,” the Obama administration issued a final rule on Friday that authorizes Medicare to pay doctors for consultations with patients on how they would like to be cared for as they are dying.

    The administration proposed the payments in July, touching off none of the rancor that first accompanied the idea during debate on the Affordable Care Act in 2009.

    I almost don’t have the strength to start from the beginning. Luckily, I have Healthcare Triage to do it for me:

    Six years after the world lost its mind, we all get what pretty much everyone wanted before:

    Under the final rule, he said, “patients and families can have the discussions when and where they want” — before patients become ill, after they receive a diagnosis of cancer or other serious illness, or while they are receiving hospice or palliative care.

    In such conversations, patients could discuss whether and how they would want to be kept alive if they became too sick to speak for themselves. Doctors can advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

    Under the rule, officials said, Medicare would pay $86 for the first 30 minutes of “advance care planning” in a doctor’s office and $80 for the service in a hospital. In both settings, they said, Medicare will pay up to $75 for 30 additional minutes of consultation. These standard amounts can be adjusted for differences in costs in different parts of the country.

    There’s a part of me that would like the people who killed this proposal before to try and explain again why it was so horrific. But then sanity returns, and I remain happy that the circus show of “DEATH PANELS” looks to be behind us.

    @aaronecarroll

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