It’s About Time: Medicare Finally Reimburses Doctors For Having End of Life Discussions With Patients

Two powerful and provocative posts at DKos have my attention tonight.

The first by Joan McCarter is a short piece entitled RIP ‘death panels,’ and welcome to a bit of sanity in our national health system.

But the idea was reborn this year thanks to efforts by many, including Goodman’s “The Conversation Project,” a group of healthcare providers, clergy, and media who began meeting in 2010. The group brainstormed over how to talk about dying better in this country, and how to help the people we love die better. That and efforts by many others led to real policy this year.

What now? The new Medicare rules will help encourage and normalize end-of-life conversations. Beginning Friday, doctors and other clinicians will be reimbursed for talking with all their patients—not just sick patients—about end-of-life care. Quietly, in one room after another, in 2016, a talk that almost derailed Obamacare in 2009, will become routine.

The new policy reimburses doctors for having end of life discussions.  It was good policy in 2009 and 2010 – the manic ravings of conservatives nearly derailed healthcare reform over an imagined lie.  It’s finally policy. It’s about damned time.

The second article began as a response to McCarter’s – Death with dignity is something we all deserve.

Being five years removed from having to make a decision to end life support for a family member allows for some clarity that I did not have when I wrote, “I wish she would die.”

After that post, I received the well wishes of many, many members of the Daily Kos family. I also had people seek out my email address, phone number, and home address to contact me and tell me just how horrible a person I was to wish for the death of my beloved mother. [snip]

The sad thing is, just two years later, my vet showed more compassion to me, and to my family when it came time to make the decision to put my Shepherd/Lab mix Duke down. The decision was made in private, he was put to sleep at my home, and the vet took the time to reassure us that we were doing the right thing. She even left us with literature on dealing with the loss of a pet. My dog, Duke, suffered far less in his final hours than my own mother did in hers.

I’ll probably have more to say about this later, but it’s important to realize that the pattern of the health care reform debate has been with us since the minute Barack Obama began running for President. Republicans and conservatives scream and shout things that are flat out lies, completely untrue.  The media mindlessly reports those things and the entire public debate is distorted as result. The tragedy is that these Republican lies result in real human suffering.

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on January 10, 2016 - 9:39 pm

    You’d have thought the Republicans, and their TV channel Fox, had learned their lesson after the Terri Schiavo disgrace. Their greedy Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, even lost his job over that one.

    But no. A few years later we have Sarah Palin out there making a complete ass out of herself and getting taken seriously with her “death panels”.

    If they revived Barry Goldwater, he’d probably die again after seeing the surreal become even more surreal in his party. He got off easy, having died just before the Clinton impeachment spectacle got legs and ran off with Americas dignity.

  2. #2 by Ken on January 18, 2016 - 1:47 pm

    Problem is for many end of life discussions should be the only option for anyone over 70.

    • #3 by Larry Bergan on January 18, 2016 - 2:31 pm

      That should read “end of life decisions” Ken. The government or the church shouldn’t decide the circumstances of your death.

      Bill Frist just wanted to drain old or sick people of their wealth before they died. It helped make him into a billionaire sicko!

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