Medicare May Soon Pay Doctors For End-Of-Life Planning, Advocates Say
A provision like this in early drafts of the health law spurred concerns about "death panels" among the law's critics, but advocates say such conversations would help patients and reduce costs. Other Medicare news looks at telemedicine reimbursement.
Medicare Expected To Pay For End-Of-Life Talks
Advocates for better end-of-life care expect Medicare to soon announce that it will start paying physicians for having advanced-care planning conversations with patients — reviving the widely misunderstood provision that gave rise to “death panel” fears and nearly sank the Affordable Care Act. The new policy could be part of an annual Medicare physician payment rule, which could be released any day. Advocates say they expect it to be included, but they note that it’s no sure thing and that they’ve been disappointed before. (Kenen, 7/6)
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Mayo Makes Case For Medicare Reimbursement For Telemedicine
Nurses Jennifer Meindel and Chad Ditlevson stand in front of monitors in a small room at the Mayo Clinic reading vital signs and occasionally calling up video images of patients lying in beds. All of the 40-some patients cycling across the screens are in intensive care in the Mayo Clinic Health System. But none of them are actually at Mayo. ... But even as they deliver intensive care in hospitals that could not otherwise provide it, government and private health insurance companies are not reimbursing them. “Medicare pays me if I’m at the bedside,” Brown explained. “They will not pay for telemedicine.” So Mayo absorbs the cost of providing the service to seven hospitals that are part of the Mayo Clinic Health System. Mayo’s Medicare reimbursement issue is representative of a national dilemma. Health care payment policies often lag cost-saving advances in technology by many years. (Spencer, 7/4)
Earlier KHN coverage: Medicare Slow To Adopt Telemedicine Due To Cost Concerns (Galewitz, 6/23)
North Carolina Health News:
Removing Barriers To Virtual Doctor Visits
In the digital age, telehealth should be a no-brainer. But barriers have slowed adoption by doctors and patients. Telehealth enthusiasts are looking for some help from the legislature to lower some of those barriers. In North Carolina, telemedicine remains a health care resource that’s been underutilized. But it looks as if that might be changing. A telepsychiatry program is in the process of scaling up statewide after a successful pilot. More hospitals and more providers are getting wired to do things like stroke care from a distance, and the costs of getting set up are coming down. (Hoban, 7/2)
The New York Times also explores caregiving issues for older Americans.
The New York Times:
More Caregivers Are No Spring Chickens Themselves
Gail Schwartz wants to keep her 85-year-old husband out of a nursing home as long as she can, but it isn’t easy. Because David Schwartz, a retired lawyer, has vascular dementia and can no longer stay alone in their home in Chevy Chase, Md., she tends to his needs from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. every Monday through Saturday and all of Sunday. When she dashes out for errands, exercise and volunteer work in the morning, she checks in by phone with the aides she has hired. ... Gail Schwartz is 78. While she thinks her husband does better at home — “he’s getting 24-hour attention, and you don’t get that in a nursing home,” she said — friends point out that the arrangement is much harder on her. (Span, 7/3)