New congressional report lends credibility to end-of-life provision in House reform bill

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Editors' Blog: Star power
Editors' Blog: Star power
A report released this week has found that end-of-life planning and discussions both improves quality of life near death and is associated with less aggressive and less costly care.

The Congressional Research Service report is key because of the controversy surrounding section 1233 of the House reform bill, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Under this hotly debated section, end-of-life consultation with a physician would be reimbursable under Medicare Part B, and would cover topics including "palliative care and hospice, and related services covered by Medicare." It also would expand the Physician Quality Reporting Index (PQRI) to include quality measures for end-of-life care, and would require the "Medicare & You" handbook to be updated to include end-of-life planning information. The provision has triggered a storm of protest from people who argue that it would lead to government-endorsed euthanasia of seniors and so-called death panels. 

Members of the House Ways and Means, and Education and Labor Committees requested the report, which aims to clarify the legislation. More information is available at www.opencrs.com.