Taking politics out of it
For the new health care law, the Obama administration recently deleted references to end-of-life planning conversations when detailing what can be covered under Medicare. Just two weeks ago, the topic was on the table for discussion.
While the administration explained this omission as “procedural”, it seems more like a political move to me. Another outbreak of “death panel” controversy could offer additional ammunition to opposers of the bill.
It’s a shame that, as a society, we can’t be more open about the end of life. Why is the topic of death so taboo? We know that there is no magic elixir that will extend our lives indefinitely, right? As long as there is a finite end to life, shouldn’t we want to ensure that our last days, months, and years are as comfortable as possible?
The good news is that Medicare patients and their doctors can still have these beneficial conversations during annual physicals. And thanks to the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (which passed in 2008), those conversations will still be covered and doctors reimbursed for this very valuable service. But the yearly annual exam is where it will have to happen. It seems that (as of a few days ago) any separate appointments to discuss preferences at the end of life will not be covered under Medicare.
The bad news is that whenever this controversy raises its ugly head, it is even more apparent that our society is hesitant to discuss a very natural process in life. Just like any other topic introduced into the political playing field, sides must be chosen and stands taken. Discomfort ensues.
I wish we could take politics out of it. I wish we could quit worrying about who’s going to pay for it, and when they’re going to pay for it. Making thoughtful decisions in advance and letting our loved ones know about them for our final journey is simply beneficial to us all. Republicans and democrats alike.Explore posts in the same categories: advance directives, advocacy, awareness, education, end of life, health care reform, hospice, Medicare
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