AMA Adopts ATS Resolution on End-of-Life Planning
In June, American Medical Association House of Delegates adopted a resolution introduced by the ATS that supports Medicare coverage for voluntary end-of-life planning. The Society introduced the resolution after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a rule covering end-of-life discussions—only to immediately rescind the policy after a public backlash that equated Medicare coverage of voluntary end-of-life discussions to “death panels.”
Although the CMS rescinded the policy because it was under political pressure, public opinion polls suggest Americans support voluntary end-of-life planning discussions with physicians and other healthcare providers. A recent national survey conducted by the Regence Foundation and the National Journal found that 86 percent of people support insurance coverage for palliative care and end-of-life discussions in general and more than 80 percent supported Medicare specifically covering those items.
“The ATS and its fellow members of the Critical Care Societies Collaborative believe strongly that Medicare and private payers should cover voluntary end-of-life planning discussions with patients. Opposition to coverage is based on misunderstandings, but such discussions help patients understand their options and express their desires about treatment at end-of-life,” said ATS President Nicholas S. Hill, MD. “Research has shown that advance care planning improves patient and family satisfaction and reduces stress, anxiety and depression in surviving relatives. The ATS will continue to work with its sister societies to petition the CMS to cover such discussions for Medicare beneficiaries.”