Obama reverses course on regulation allowing advance care planning

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

The Obama administration has opted to remove any mention of end-of-life care planning from a Medicare regulation that took effect at the beginning of the year, The New York Times reported.

It took out of the regulation the part allowing physicians to have advance care planning with patients during annual visit. This comes as President Obama and Democrats face attempts by Republicans to repeal healthcare reform. Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services say the Obama administration should persist and keep encouraging end-of-life planning discussions however they can, the paper reported.

Early versions of Obama's healthcare reform package included provisions that required physicians to discuss end-of-life plans during annual wellness visit. End-of-life-planning includes discussions about hospice care and advance directives. But conservative opponents to healthcare reform, such as Sarah Palin, have argued that end-of-life planning was equivalent to “healthcare rationing” and “death panels.” The end-of-life planning provision was taken out of the bill. It then became part of the Medicare regulation.