'Care Planning Act' Gets Big Thumbs Up From AAFP

Bill Would Safeguard Medicare Beneficiaries' End-of-Life Wishes

June 16, 2015 03:06 pm News Staff

The AAFP recently joined nine other organizations in a ringing endorsement of bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate. The Care Planning Act(www.gpo.gov) would establish Medicare coverage for voluntary advance care planning, which, in turn, would increase access to the services.

[Person laying on gurney in the dark with someone's hand soothing them]

The bill, S. 1549, was introduced in the Senate on June 10 and promptly referred to the Committee on Finance. It would amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for care-coordination services for Medicare beneficiaries experiencing declining health and advancing illness and needing end-of-life care.

In a June 10 letter(2 page PDF) to Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Mark Warner, D-Va., the signing organizations -- including the American Academy of Pain Management, the American Geriatrics Society and AMDA: the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine -- noted that the health care many patients receive at the end of life "often does not reflect their values, goals and preferences."

The proposed legislation would, among other things, help document patient desires and move health care professionals toward patient-centered care.

"Research shows that advance care planning conversations significantly improve outcomes for patients," said the organizations. Furthermore, those same patients are more likely to

Story Highlights
  • The AAFP recently joined nine other organizations in signing on to a letter of support for advance care planning legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate.
  • The bill, dubbed the Care Planning Act, would provide for care-coordination services for Medicare beneficiaries experiencing declining health and advancing illness and needing end-of-life care.
  • The proposed legislation would, among other things, help document patient desires and move health care professionals toward patient-centered care.
  • receive health care that aligns with their wishes,
  • undergo fewer hospitalizations toward the end of life,
  • utilize hospice care and
  • die in the location of their choice.

The bill also would pay for the development of quality measures focused on end-of-life care. That's important, because to date, tools have not been available to measure patients' stated treatment goals and compare them with the care that is delivered. Care outcomes also would be measured.

The lack of tools has been a significant barrier to care, said the letter. "Removing this barrier is the first step in encouraging health systems and insurers to improve the care they provide."

The ability to test new models of care coordination designed specifically for the provision of services to patients experiencing serious and advanced illnesses is an important provision in the legislation, agreed the signatories.

Stay tuned to AAFP News for more on this topic. In coming days, the AAFP will fire off its own letter outlining -- in no uncertain terms -- its support for the Care Planning Act.

Importantly, the Academy is fighting this battle on multiple fronts and just weeks ago demanded that HHS recognize existing CPT codes(3 page PDF) for advance care planning services so that family physicians could receive appropriate payment for the care they provide to patients.

According to AAFP experts, CMS is expected to outline such codes in its 2016 proposed Medicare physician fee schedule set for release later this summer.

AAFP News Coverage
Promoting Advance Care Planning
AAFP, Others Urge CMS to Recognize New CPT Codes

(1/7/2015)

Fresh Perspectives Blog: Don't Wait: Advance Planning Helps Both Patients and Their Caregivers
(11/19/2014)


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