Medicare to cover end-of-life counseling
WASHINGTON - Medicare says it plans to pay doctors to counsel patients about end-of-life care.
That's a turnabout for the idea that sparked accusations of "death panels" and fanned a political furor over President Barack Obama's health care law six years ago.
The policy change, effective Jan. 1, was part of a massive regulation issued Wednesday.
It suggests that what many doctors view as a common-sense option is no longer seen by the Obama administration as politically toxic.
Counseling would be entirely voluntary for patients.
Some doctors already have such conversations. But an opening to roughly 55 million Medicare beneficiaries could make that far more common.
Before former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin ignited the "death panels" outcry, there was longstanding bipartisan consensus about helping people to better understand their end-of-life choices.