New rule gives Medicare beneficiaries more control in end-of-life care

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) has announced that Medicare will begin paying physicians and other practitioners to discuss advance care planning, effective Jan. 1, 2016.  Advance care planning marks a critical step forward in ensuring that care delivery aligns with individual goals, values and preferences, resulting in better care, higher patient and family satisfaction and fewer undesired hospitalizations.

In 2013, nearly 70 percent of people who died in Tennessee were age 65 and older, making Medicare the largest insurer of health care provided during the last year of life. In fact, almost 30 percent of all Medicare dollars nationwide are paid during the last year of life, with more than 50 percent of that amount going to acute care hospitals. This money is often spent to keep a patient alive far past the hope of recovery.

With physician involvement in advanced care planning allowed in the CMS final physician payment rule, seniors and their families will be able to control the type of care they receive and when they receive it.

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