A Quiet End to the ‘Death Panels’ Debate

This is the first of two posts I am contributing to the patient engagement topic cycle – both are quite personal. The first – let’s start with the actual headline buried in the article: “Last month, however, this six-year struggle came to a quiet resolution. With hardly a ripple of dissent, Medicare authorized payment for end-of-life discussions.” To “de-politicize” the topic – this is something that, according to a September 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation poll is supported by 80% of surveyed adults, a statistic that’s news to me. Changing payment does not equip physicians, other care team members or each of us about how to have the conversation (see The Conversation Project, Prepare and Five Wishes campaigns if you are interested). As the article says, “Far more important than the money — physicians aren’t going to boost their income enormously by billing $86 for a half-hour — is the message.” Did this pass your desks? Any reaction among your stakeholders, patient advocates, physician community etc? I’m still processing my reaction, and am curious to hear yours.

“It seemed like a logical idea, the congressman told me, and not a particularly radical one. American health care tends to encourage doctors to make money by ordering more tests and procedures rather than by having conversations with patients…”