The Colbert Healthcare Challenge: Part 4

Well, here I am, just about halfway through the dreaded 1018 page House healthcare bill. I’m at page 501! Victory is many, many weeks from being within my grasp. Although still an unwieldy bundle of reading, things have started to get a little interesting. (Don’t know why I’m reading this? Click here.)

I’m going to launch right into the “what I’ve learned” part of the article, however, do keep in mind that this whole thing gives me a big ole’ headache so what I think I’m reading may end up not being what it means at all! Hey, at least I’m being honest about it!

– I’ve definitely been having some fun with language in this part. A “power-driven wheelchair” is now a “complex rehabilitative power-driven wheel-chair”.
– This chunk of the bill mentions the development of “meaningful use of an electronic health record”. It looks like thus far they mention it with regards to “The collection of health data to identify deficiencies in the quality and coordination of care for individuals eligible for benefits under this part.”
– There is a whole lot about trying to “reduce potentially preventable hospital readmissions”. If I’m reading this right, it looks Medicare may reimburse hospitals less for excessive readmissions, bearing in mind that they will be doing a study to determine an average, and also to determine a list of acceptable conditions and reasons for readmissions so that hospitals are not penalized in any way for those.
– With regards to this it appears there will be a commitment (maybe providing funding to hospitals?) to having translators available to be certain that upon discharge patients understand what their follow up care should be.
– They want to establish a “medical home pilot program” for “high need beneficiaries”, which are people who ” require regular medical monitoring, advising, or treatment”. If I’m reading it right, they’ll also be examining home health care options for individuals in general. That may just be wishful reading on my part, but having a doctor come to your home does sound like some super pro-active preventive medicine.
– I don’t know how Medicare works now, so this may be new, or maintaining of the status quo, but preventive services with Medicare would be covered 100%. This includes all the usual suspects, mammograms, colonoscopies, physicals, so on and so forth, etc., etc.
– Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for….the death panels (cue ominous music). Since there has been so much attention paid to this one, allow me to liberally cut and paste (it’s long, but pretty easy to follow):

Advance Care Planning Consultation
Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the term ‘advance care planning consultation’ means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner described in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning, if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. Such consultation shall include the following:

(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.

(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.

(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.

(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline, the advance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal service organizations (including those funded through the Older Americans Act of 1965).

(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.

(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders, which shall include—

(I) the reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the individual and the individual’s family and the reasons why such an order should be updated periodically as the health of the individual changes;

(II) the information needed for an individual or legal surrogate to make informed decisions regarding the completion of such an order; and

(III) the identification of resources that an individual may use to determine the requirements of the State in which such individual resides so that the treatment wishes of that individual will be carried out if the individual is unable to communicate those wishes, including requirements regarding the designation of a surrogate decision maker (also known as a health care proxy).

(ii) The Secretary shall limit the requirement for explanations under clause (i) to consultations furnished in a State—

(I) in which all legal barriers have been addressed for enabling orders for life sustaining treatment to constitute a set of medical orders respected across all care settings; and

(II) that has in effect a program for orders for life sustaining treatment described in clause (iii).

(iii) A program for orders for life sustaining treatment for a States described in this clause is a program that—

(I) ensures such orders are standardized and uniquely identifiable throughout the State;

(II) distributes or makes accessible such orders to physicians and other health professionals that (acting within the scope of the professional’s authority under State law) may sign orders for life sustaining treatment;

(III) provides training for health care professionals across the continuum of care about the goals and use of orders for life sustaining treatment; and

(IV) is guided by a coalition of stakeholders includes representatives from emergency medical services, emergency department physicians or nurses, state long-term care association, state medical association, state surveyors, agency responsible for senior services, state department of health, state hospital association, home health association, state bar association, and state hospice association.

(2) A practitioner described in this paragraph is—

(A) a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)); and

(B) a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant who has the authority under State law to sign orders for life sustaining treatments.

(3)(A) An initial preventive physical examination under subsection (WW), including any related discussion during such examination, shall not be considered an advance care planning consultation for purposes of applying the 5-year limitation under paragraph (1).

(B) An advance care planning consultation with respect to an individual may be conducted more frequently than provided under paragraph (1) if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual, including diagnosis of a chronic, progressive, life-limiting disease, a life-threatening or terminal diagnosis or life-threatening injury, or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility (as defined by the Secretary), or a hospice program.

(4) A consultation under this subsection may include the formulation of an order regarding life sustaining treatment or a similar order.

(5)(A) For purposes of this section, the term ‘order regarding life sustaining treatment’ means, with respect to an individual, an actionable medical order relating to the treatment of that individual that—

(i) is signed and dated by a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)) or another health care professional (as specified by the Secretary and who is acting within the scope of the professional’s authority under State law in signing such an order, including a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) and is in a form that permits it to stay with the individual and be followed by health care professionals and providers across the continuum of care;

(ii) effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual;

(iii) is uniquely identifiable and standardized within a given locality, region, or State (as identified by the Secretary); and

(iv) may incorporate any advance directive (as defined in section 1866(f)(3)) if executed by the individual.

(B) The level of treatment indicated under subparagraph (A)(ii) may range from an indication for full treatment to an indication to limit some or all or specified interventions. Such indicated levels of treatment may include indications respecting, among other items—

(i) the intensity of medical intervention if the patient is pulse less, apneic, or has serious cardiac or pulmonary problems;

‘(ii) the individual’s desire regarding transfer to a hospital or remaining at the current care setting;

(iii) the use of antibiotics; and

(iv) the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.
I’ll let you decide if this is a “death panel” situation, in my opinion, it is not.

– I still don’t believe this is a socialist plot to take over our federal government.

517 pages left!