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New End-of-Life Medicare Law: How Controversial Is It?

December 29, 2010

Just how controversial is the idea of Medicare paying for end-of-life planning?

As we reported yesterday, The New York Times recently suggested “death panels” may be back: President Obama got a controversial end-of-life provision into law without Congress’s approval. But now, The Wall Street Journal reports that the new law is different.

The original provision:

would have given specific directions to doctors on what they should tell patients, including discussion of palliative care, hospice and other services that could cost less than an all-out effort to prolong life.

The new Medicare rule, issued Dec. 3, is less specific. It says advance-care planning includes a discussion of setting up an advance directive that would tell doctors what to do if the patient is too ill to make medical decisions.

Doctors and patients can also discuss “whether or not the physician is willing to follow the individual’s wishes as expressed in an advance directive,” it says.

Basically, says the article, the controversy was over the government telling doctors what to say, which is not an issue in the new law. You can read more here: “White House Links New End-of-Life Talks to Bush Policy.” However, The Christian Science Monitor notes  in “‘Death Panels’ Controversy: Is Obama Avoiding Congress?” that there are still critics.

How do you feel about this law? Do you think your aging parents will have these discussions with their doctor?

If you have any questions about this post or need help finding senior-care options for a loved one, call 1-866-483-4896 to speak with a care advisor in your area.

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