The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) strongly supports inclusion of the Advance Care Planning (ACP) codes in the 2016 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. We join other consumer, professional, and patient advocacy groups in thanking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for acknowledging the importance of this key service for Medicare beneficiaries. ACP is an essential element of high-quality care that supports patients in aligning their future care with what is most important to them through ongoing conversations with their healthcare professionals.
"This proposal, if finalized, will help our patients and their families, who often look to us for assistance with planning for their future care," said Steven R. Counsell, MD, AGSF, President of the AGS. "Making separate payment for ACP will help ensure that we understand our patients' care preferences, and we are delighted that it has been included in the 2016 Physician Fee Schedule."
Earlier this year, the AGS and 65 other organizations representing patients, health professionals, caregivers, faith-based healthcare systems, and a cadre of other advocates joined together in urging CMS to include payment for voluntary ACP in the Physician Fee Schedule. CMS's recognition of these codes acknowledges that quality of care can be dramatically improved when patients and their healthcare professionals work together through serious and often complex healthcare issues so that patients receive their preferred care.
According to recent studies, ACP also has contributed to increased patient and family satisfaction with the healthcare system, fewer unnecessary hospitalizations, and reduced caregiver distress, depression, and lost productivity. A 2014 Institute of Medicine report cited reimbursement for ACP as one of five core recommendations for improving care quality and adhering to patient goals.
The proposed rule for the Physician Fee Schedule will be open for public comment through September 8, 2015, after which time CMS will finalize policies to take effect beginning in 2016.
About the American Geriatrics Society
Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its more than 6,200 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit americangeriatrics.org.