Dems urge Medicare to pay for end-of-life talks

Dems urge Medicare to pay for end-of-life talks

Ten House Democrats are urging the Obama administration to allow Medicare to pay for end-of-life discussions with doctors.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed in July to allow Medicare to start reimbursing doctors when they have discussions with patients about their end-of-life options, such as whether they want to be kept on life support.

The lawmakers are now calling on the CMS to follow through and include the proposal in the final rule that will be released by Nov. 1.

Paying for end-of-life discussions has been politically controversial in the past and mirrors the controversy over an ObamaCare cost-cutting board that critics called a "death panel." But the controversy has faded, and there was not much of a firestorm over the most recent proposal.

The 10 lawmakers, including Rep. Sander Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, write in a letter to the CMS that they “encourage” the proposal to be included in the final rule.

“Giving patients the necessary time to have these complex conversations with providers is an important step in encouraging patients and their families to engage in end-of-life discussions and decisions,” the lawmakers write.

The CMS emphasized when making the proposal in July that its proposals were consistent with recommendations from the American Medical Association.