What End-of-Life Counseling Is Actually About
Joe Klein has a sensitive and serious post on the actual issues involved in end-of-life counseling. An excerpt:
I've spent quite a bit of time with my elderly parents--they're both 89 and have been together since the age of 5--trying to help them steer their way through some difficult decisions, and trying to guarantee that their decisions about the rest of their lives will be honored, even if they have lost the ability to announce those decisions themselves. This isn't easy. My mother and her two sisters are quite frail and entirely dependent on my father, who has made no specific plans about what should happen to them should he lose the ability to take care of them. He has a living will, he thinks. My mother has often said that if she becomes severely debilitated, "Just let me die." But I'm not sure she has made that clear in a legal document. My father is reluctant to talk about these sensitive subjects and has resisted signing a power of attorney, to be activated if he becomes incapacitated.
My father grew up during the Depression and like many of his peers, he doesn't like spending money on services he suspects are unnecessary. End-of-life counseling on issues like living wills and powers of attorney is something he could clearly use--from a skilled professional who, unlike me, knows the best way to describe these things and the easiest way to enact them--and he would be more likely to take advantage of this service if it were offered free-of-charge, and regularly updated, by Medicare. Although, even then, I have to admit I'm not sure he'd want to take advantage of it.
That last is an important point. The policy problem being addressed here is that Medicare doesn't specifically cover a meeting between you and your doctor to talk through these issues. That's what Blumenauer and Isakson and Lugar and Rockefeller and Collins are trying to change, albeit each in his or her own way.
August 12, 2009; 5:29 PM ET
Categories: Health Reform
Save & Share: Previous: Why Are Tom Vilsack and Janet Napolitano in the Obama Administration?
Next: Is this 1994 All Over Again? An Interview with Nancy-Ann DeParle
Posted by: nwagle | August 12, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bakho | August 12, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: trulyb | August 12, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: cmpnwtr | August 12, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 13, 2009 4:48 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.