Bioethics Blogs

Medicare Reimbursement for Advance Care Planning – FINAL RULE

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a final rule updating payment policies, payment rates, and quality provisions for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule on or after January 1, 2016.

Notably, the rule establishes separate payment and a payment rate for two advance care planning services provided to Medicare beneficiaries by physicians and other practitioners.  I posted the relevant section from the >1300-page rule here.  

The Medicare statute currently provides coverage for advance care planning under the “Welcome to Medicare” visit available to all Medicare beneficiaries.  But they may not need these services when they first enroll. Establishing separate payment for advance care planning codes to recognize additional practitioner time to conduct these conversations provides beneficiaries and practitioners greater opportunity and flexibility to utilize these planning sessions at the most appropriate time for patients and their families. CMS is also finalizing payment for advance care planning when it is included as an optional element of the “Annual Wellness Visit.”

The AMA Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Editorial Panel and the AMA Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) recommended new CPT codes and associated payment amounts for calendar year 2015. CMS did not make the new codes payable for 2015 in order to allow the public full opportunity to comment.

For Medicare beneficiaries who choose to pursue it, advance care planning is a service that includes early conversations between patients and their practitioners, both before an illness progresses and during the course of treatment, to decide on the type of care that is right for them.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.