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Poll Finds Overwhelming Support For Medicare Paying For End-Of-Life Talks

Posted on 09/30/2015

Kaiser Health News — The public overwhelmingly supports Medicare’s plan to pay for end-of-life discussions between doctors and patients, despite GOP objections that such chats would lead to rationed care for the elderly and ill, a poll released Wednesday finds.

Eight of 10 people surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation supported the government or insurers paying for planning discussions about the type of care patients preferred in the waning days or weeks of their lives. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) These discussions can include whether people would want to be kept alive by artificial means even if they had no chance of regaining consciousness or autonomy and whether they would want their organs to be donated. These preferences can be incorporated into advance directives, or living wills, which are used if someone can no longer communicate.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services earlier this year proposed paying doctors to have these talks with patients. A final decision is due out soon. The idea had been included in early drafts of the 2010 federal health care law, but Sarah Palin and others opponents of the law labeled the counseling sessions and other provisions “death panels” motivated by desires to save money, and the provision was deleted from the bill.

Read the full story from Kaiser Health News.