Medicare To Pay Doctors To Talk End-Of-Life Wishes

Jul 10, 2015

Medicare has proposed a new rule that would allow doctors to bill for end-of-life conversations with patients. It’s part of Care New England nurse practitioner Terry Rochon’s job to have these sometimes lengthy, delicate discussions with patients, to document the kind of care they want as a serious illness progresses. But she says making advance care planning a billable service should encourage more healthcare providers to do the same.

Nurse practitioner Terry Rochon affixes a bracelet to a patient's wrist. The patient wanted to be sure her wishes were respected at the end of her life, even if she couldn't speak for herself.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

“I’m hoping that people will start the conversation earlier in the diagnosis," said Rochon. "So that will make it easier, from step to step of a person’s diagnosis, to know what the patient’s goals are, what they want at each point in their illness.”

Those goals vary from wanting doctors to do everything possible to revive you to wanting only to be kept comfortable at home. Rochon says not enough patients have thought about or recorded their wishes.