Bipartisan laws would expand access to advance care planning in Medicare

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The Improving Access to Advance Care Planning Act pending in Congress would, if passed and signed into law, expand access to advance care planning services in Medicare.

The bill would profit each providers and older adults, Mollie Gurian, vice chairman of home-based and HCBS policy at LeadingAge, told the McKnight’s Business Each day.

“This laws would allow social employees to bill Medicare for conversations about advance care planning (which many frequently have with older adult/Medicare beneficiaries) and, we expect, encourage more of them to offer advance care planning services (since they’ll now be paid),” she said. “HHS shall be informing physicians in regards to the changes to coding so that they are more accustomed to the choice to bill Medicare.”

Under current law, Gurian said, physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can bill Medicare for such advance care planning conversations, however the older adult might be billed for a co-pay.

“The laws eliminates the co-pay,” she said. “We hope that by not having a co-pay and it being a service before the deductible, more people will use it, and providers needn’t be apprehensive about billing their patients for these conversations.”

The laws was introduced within the Senate by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and within the House of Representatives by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

“The bipartisan bill we’re introducing today would help provide a chance for patients to have a structured discussion with their health care providers about their goals and treatment options in order that they will make their selections known and develop a plan of care in consultation with their family members,” Collins said Friday.

The act has the support of several patient and family advocacy organizations, including LeadingAge, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation, the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Respecting Decisions, USAging, the Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network, the Smarter Health Care Coalition, and the Consumer Coalition for Quality Health Care, based on Warner’s office.

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