House bill resurrects end-of-life care planning measure

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[Photo: Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) sponsored the end-of-life care planning provision.]

You've got to admit that our federal congressmen have some moxie. This week they unveiled their long-awaited healthcare reform bill. Included in it not only is the touchy public option, but also the perhaps even more controversial end-of-life counseling provision.

Need I remind you, it was this provision that sparked national outrage this summer, leading to angry town-hall meetings and some lawmakers comparing the government to an executioner.

Yet, there it is, right in the middle of the House bill (H.R. 3962). It goes to show that, indeed, rationality can prevail. Still, two Senate committees have not included this language in their bills.

What's notable about this saga is that most people in healthcare, including those in long-term care, supported this provision from the beginning. As a refresher, the measure would allow Medicare to reimburse doctors for counseling beneficiaries about end-of-life care decisions. Medicare would pay for a counseling session with a doctor or clinical professional on care planning once every five years. The measure requires that the sessions be voluntary. It also specifically prohibits the encouragement or promotion of suicide or assisted suicide.

That doesn't sound so radical to me, and it probably doesn't to most people. But, of course, spinning is a part of the national game of politics.


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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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