I received several emails over the last few days concerning page 425 of the House Bill on Health Reform, HR 3200, which outlines mandatory end of life “options” counseling.
Technically, it appears on the surface to allow doctors (and other “providers”) to charge for the counseling. But, yes, it’s mandated counseling and in the wrong hands, it might encourage withholding of care more than some of us would like — and certainly more that others might like.
Can you imagine a more personal and private subject? The subject should be broached by your family doctor. But it appears that every doctor who sees Medicare patients will be responsible. I can imagine the emotional undertones of different doctors as they recite the standardized language and present the forms to be signed! And then, the counseling will be reported to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with the appropriate modifying code.
I object to the mandated repeat counseling when someone gets sick, the inclusion in the “Medicare and Me” handbook with language to be formalized by the Secretary and forms for the counseling. I’ve mentioned before how “hot” an issue this could be, even with my limited exposure to the debate.
I hope that someone with sensitivity is in the Secretary’s office, assisting with decisions on the literature and forms.
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