Courtesy of the New York Times: http://nyti.ms/1J53OTY by Pam Belluck

Medicare, the federal program that insures 55 million older and disabled Americans, announced plans on Wednesday to reimburse doctors for conversations with patients about whether and how they would want to be kept alive if they became too sick to speak for themselves.

Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times
Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times

The proposal would settle a debate that raged before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, when Sarah Palin labeled a similar plan as tantamount to setting up “death panels” that could cut off care for the sick. The new plan is expected to be approved and to take effect in January, although it will be open to public comment for 60 days
Medicare’s plan comes as many patients, families and health providers are pushing to give people greater say about how they die — whether that means trying every possible medical option to stay alive or discontinuing life support for those who do not want to be sustained by ventilators and feeding tubes.

Medicare’s plan comes as many patients, families and health providers are pushing to give people greater say about how they die — whether that means trying every possible medical option to stay alive or discontinuing life support for those who do not want to be sustained by ventilators and feeding tubes.

“We think that today’s proposal supports individuals and families who wish to have the opportunity to discuss advance care planning with their physician and care team,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, the chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which administers Medicare. “We think those discussions are an important part of patient- and family-centered care.” (Continue Reading: Medicare Plans to Pay)