Feds say medicare should pay docs to discuss end of life issues

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jul 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-15 17:15:00-04

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nobody wants to talk about end of life issues, but it is a conversation many would be better off having sooner rather than later -- when you may not be able to make your wishes known.

A landmark proposal in the health care industry would reimburse doctors and nurse practitioners for discussions about end of life care. The plan was championed last year in a report by the Institute of Medicine, an independent advisory body.

Geriatrician, Heather Cappello, M.D. of Sarasota Memorial Hospital explained, end of life conversations are emotionally challenging for both family and patient. But they are conversations she routinely has with residents of Pines of Sarasota.

Until now, she has never been compensated for those conversations, and didn't expect to be.

"To me as a doctor, it means that the government is now recognizing work that's been unfunded before," said Dr. Cappello.

The new rule applies only to Medicare patients.

Joelle Angsten, M.D., specializes in palliative care, and said Medicare often leads the way with so many things we do with medicine.

"It really illuminates what's next, what we ought to be focusing on," Dr. Angsten says. "As we start to get better at this with our Medicare patients, you bet that other patients are going to start to get the benefits of that."

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