Excerpted from The Conversation Project November 3, 2015, e-newsletter:

On October 30, the Obama administration issued a final rule that allows Medicare to reimburse physicians for having end-of-life care conversations with patients. The final rule creates new billing codes for advance care planning as part of Medicare’s physician fee schedule. The rule will go into effect on January 1, 2016.

“We received overwhelmingly positive comments about the importance of these conversations between physicians and patients,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, the Chief Medical Officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “We know that many patients and families want to have these discussions.”

In a letter submitted to CMS as a public comment on the regulation, Harriet Warshaw, The Conversation Project’s Executive Director, emphasized why the reimbursement changes are critical for promoting end-of-life conversations and patient-centered care:

“As we speak to clinicians all over the country three reasons are given for the limited number of end of life conversations taking place: Training, Time and Payment. In our experience training will take place and time will be found IF there is payment for these critical conversations. It is for this reason that CMS’s proposed payment to clinicians is critical for moving the needle on advance care planning.”

Read more about the final rule in the NY Times.