The federal government is about to pay doctors who speak with patients about the type of medical care they want when they are “near death.”
The rule announced on Friday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid service will reimburse, starting January 1, 2016, healthcare providers if they have conversations with Medicare patients about advance planning–also known as end-of-life discussions, reports WSJ.
Make no mistake about it, this is about cutting the cost for the government of patient care.
It is a delicate issue, however, because end-of-life discussions also are likely to lower health-care spending—which could lead to claims the conversations are a way to limit treatment or care.
I have had discussions with senior executives of healthcare firms who tell me that this will be a means to cut off treatment for many who will be deemed unlikely to live, but of which a percentage (approx. 10%) would likely survive their illnesses.
They say what will happen is an attractive girl trained in these “advance planning” talks will come in with slick brochures showing pictures of people in horrific states and saying to a patient, “Do you want to live in this state and burden your family?,” when in fact the patient is being asked to sign-off on the cutting-off of treatment at a point unlikely to be anywhere near the state portrayed in the brochure picture.
And don’t think this is just about Medicare and Medicaid patients, It is the first step. The current government-controlled crony health insurance sector will also benefit from these patient talks.
Bottom line: When you are a drain on government coffers rather than a taxpayer, and the crony health insurance sector fears you will become expensive to keep alive, the government would rather see you dead.
It is another way that research into drugs to extend lives of people, who possibly can recover from severe illnesses, will be disincentivized, while treatment will stop on others that have a chance of recovering from a serious illness.
Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.