Advance Care Planning Gets a Boost

iStock_000015798301LargeIn response to an earlier request from AARP and other groups, we are pleased that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recommended in its recent proposed update to the Medicare physician fee schedule that Medicare be able to pay for advance care planning (ACP) services from physicians and other providers.

The proposal will help facilitate voluntary conversations among individuals, their families and health care providers to help ensure individuals’ choices and wishes about their care are known, respected and followed. Doing so will support patient engagement and help Americans with advanced illness to receive high-quality, person- and family-centered care that is consistent with their values and honors their dignity.

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Conversations between individuals, their families and their health care providers are vital to ensuring an individual’s values, preferences and wishes are known, understood and respected. In addition, such conversations could also spur additional dialogue with individuals and their families. Too often, individuals may not have conversations with their families or representatives until a particular health care or other event triggers these conversations. Many individuals do not want to think about the care they may need during the course of or at the end of an advanced illness.

Research shows that advance care planning leads to better care, higher patient and family satisfaction, fewer unwanted hospitalizations, and lower rates of caregiver distress and lost productivity. ACP is particularly important for Medicare beneficiaries because many have multiple chronic illnesses, and they receive care at home from family caregivers who are often involved in making medical decisions.

We look forward to filing formal comments to urge CMS to help enable and empower individuals to voluntarily make their care preferences and wishes known, so they can be followed by health care and other providers.

Photo: AlexRaths

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