CAPC Statement on Medicare Proposal for Paying Doctors for Advance Care Planning Discussions
New York, NY (July 10, 2015)—The decision to compensate clinicians for advance care planning − conversations about what matters most to patients when they are facing a serious illness − marks a step forward in U.S. health policy.
According to Diane E. Meier, MD, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) and Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, “Policymakers have heard not only from doctors and other providers, but also from patients and their families, about the importance of having enough time to communicate.
“These conversations are crucial to ensuring that patients and families understand what to expect; are informed about the pros and cons of different treatment alternatives; and can make the choices that are best for themselves and their loved ones.
“Yet research shows that since these conversations require training and skill and take more than the 10 minutes typically allotted for an office visit, they occur far too rarely. Thanks to this policy change, clinicians now know that these conversations are valued enough to be recognized and compensated like any other skilled medical procedure.
“It is not enough to pay for these conversations, however. Clinicians must know what they are doing and be well trained in communication skills. Therefore, in the final policy Medicare should identify and require documentation of specific components of these planning discussions. Billing for it should not be enough.”
The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) is a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious illness. As the leading resource for palliative care development and growth, CAPC provides health care professionals with training, tools and technical assistance necessary to start and sustain successfully palliative care programs in hospitals and other health care settings. CAPC is funded through membership and the generous support of foundations and private philanthropy. It is affiliated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. Visit www.capc.org.