Crucial Decisions on End-of-Life Medical Care Could Be Made In Consultation with Doctors In Advance of Incapacitation
TRENTON — The crucial decisions about end-of-life medical care made in advance of incapacitating conditions should be supported by Medicare and Medicaid, according to Senator Richard J. Codey, who introduced legislation requiring Medicaid reimbursement for consultations with doctors or other caregivers. Senator Codey also introduced a Senate resolution urging federal officials to approve these payments for Medicare recipients.
“The best way to ensure that incapacitated patients are treated and cared for according to their wishes is to have medical directives prepared in advance,” said Senator Codey. “People should have the ability to consult with their doctor or trusted health care provider so they have the information they need to make these crucial decisions. Medicare and Medicaid should support this practice.”
Advance care planning is the practice of preparing explicit written instructions for caregivers, family and friends on the type of care that should be provided or withheld, including palliative care, in case of incapacitation. These decisions should be made with input from medical professionals, if that is what Medicare recipients want, according to Senator Codey.
The American Medical Association recently recommended that Medicare provide reimbursement for the practice. Two states, Colorado and Oregon, have already moved forward on this by approving Medicaid payments for the consultative care.
“These are crucial medical decisions but they should be made by patient, if possible,” said Senator Codey. “They involve human dignity in the final stages of life. Their preferences should be respected and followed. Reimbursements would incentivize this care.”
Once the government-sponsored programs adopt this change it would set a standard for private insurers and encourage more doctors to engage in these conversations with their patients, Senator Codey pointed out.
“Coverage would increase awareness and use of this valuable service when people are able to make decisions with a greater comfort level on end-of-life care,” Senator Codey said. “With an aging population, there will be a growing need for this.”
Both measures were officially introduced on Monday.