A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would create a new Medicare benefit known as “planning services.” Patients with an advanced or terminal illness who are on Medicare would be allowed to work with an interdisciplinary team to help the patient figure out his or her wishes for future treatment and to articulate those wishes in the form of an advanced directive. The doctors on that team can be reimbursed by Medicare for this service. (Right now, no such provision exists.) Right now, many patients have care that is largely uncoordinated, or coordinated haphazardly. Permitting doctors to bill for providing such services would improve the delivery of health care for affected patients.
The bill, S.1549, the Care Planning Act of 2015, is currently in the Senate Committee on Finance.