Late last week, the
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a Final Rule
under which it will reimburse clinicians
who conduct advance care planning (ACP) conversations with their patients who
are seriously ill. This change, effective January 1, 2016, is yet another
indicator of payers not only appreciating the importance of establishing a
trusting relationship between patients and their clinicians, but recognizing
that developing these relationships take time - time that must be paid for.
"The purpose of the
ACP code is to ensure that clinicians truly understand what is most important to
patients and their families so that, as the future unfolds, the care we provide
supports their highest priorities," says CAPC Director, Diane E. Meier, MD. "As
America's largest payer, CMS is sending a strong signal to the health care
system at large that it recognizes and rewards the irreducible value of the
CAPC applauds this
change and looks forward to working closely with CMS and other stakeholders to
ensure that patients will receive care that effectively manages their symptoms
and improves their overall quality of life. For more information on how this
policy change will improve the lives of patients with serious illness, view the
CMS Fact Sheet
as well as recent coverage from CBS Evening News.
Quality of life is the watchword. If anybody uses that term, head for the hills with your loved ones. No one is guaranteed a particular quality of life. What we are guaranteed is the love of Our Father in heaven who sees the weak and the vulnerable as "little ones" who deserve special care. But we live in a post-Christian Darwinian world where "survival of the fittest" is often the measure of how one is treated. And organizations like CAPC are the overseers of this brave new world.
May God help us and our vulnerable loved ones.
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