Hospice Providers Wrangle with Barriers Expanding Advance Care Planning

POSTED ON MONDAY, July 13, 2020 

Everyone is increasingly realizing the importance of advance care planning to ensure end of life care and reduce health care costs. Struggles exist in public policy which limit the growth of these services, along with increased strains brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to some stakeholders.

“Studies show that advance care planning can reduce hospitalizations and health care costs, boost hospice and palliative care utilization, and help ensure delivery of care that aligns with the patient’s wishes. Despite its benefits, existing barriers have impeded patient and family access and affordability of advance care planning, among which are federal policies around cost-sharing and patient deductible costs in the Medicare program, according to Davis Baird, policy and advocacy manager for the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC).”

“When advance care planning services are billed outside of the annual wellness visit, patients are responsible,” Baird told Hospice News. “These discussions are often initiated by specialists that have even higher co-pay rates. Only certain provider types are eligible to bill for the Medicare advance care planning services. Patients and clinicians understand these conversations, but often bump up against structural barriers, including the scarce numbers of trained and qualified providers eligible to provide these services and getting paid for doing so.”

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