End-of-Life Advice: More Than 500,000 Chat on Medicare’s Dime
The 90-year-old woman in the San Diego-area nursing home was quite clear, said Dr. Karl Steinberg. She didn’t want aggressive measures to prolong her life. If her heart stopped, she didn’t want CPR.
But when Steinberg, a palliative care physician, relayed those wishes to the woman’s daughter, the younger woman would have none of it.
“She said, ‘I don’t agree with that. My mom is confused,’” Steinberg recalled. “I said, ‘Let’s talk about it.’”
Instead of arguing, Steinberg used an increasingly popular tool to resolve the impasse last month. He brought mother and daughter together for an advance-care planning session, an end-of-life consultation that’s now being paid for by Medicare.
In 2016, the first year health care providers were allowed to bill for the service, nearly 575,000 Medicare beneficiaries took part in the conversations, new federal data obtained by Kaiser Health News show.