Medicare unveiled plans today to begin paying doctors to have conversations with their patients about end-of-life care and how they want to die. Yes, the same idea that got shot down six years ago when Sarah Palin raised a ruckus about "death panels," reports the AP. A post at Vox sees it as a big move by the White House: "It's the Obama administration saying they think these conversations are important, and want to move forward on them regardless of an inevitable political blowback." But Politico isn't so sure the blowback will be present this time around, thanks in part to an aging population and a growing wariness about "futile high-tech interventions at the end of life."
Assuming the change is finalized, it would take effect on Jan. 1. Because Medicare insures 55 million Americans and often "sets the standard for private insurers," the New York Times suggests the move could go a long way toward making such conversations a standard part of medical care. The AP points out that Medicare is using a fairly new term for the process: "advanced care planning." Those who want to dig into the actual Medicare proposal can do so via this document, starting at page 246. (Read more Medicare stories.)