The Care Planning Act of 2015 creates a Medicare benefit for patient-centered care planning for people with serious illness

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today cosponsored bipartisan legislation designed to give people with serious illness the freedom to make more informed choices about their care and the power to have those choices honored. The Care Planning Act of 2015 creates a Medicare benefit for patient-centered care planning for people with serious illness. It will reimburse healthcare professionals for providing a voluntary, structured discussion about the patient’s goals, illness, and treatment options. Under this legislation, a written plan would reflect the informed choices made by patients in consultation with their health care team, faith leaders, family members, and friends. The Care Planning Act also provides resources for public and professional education materials about care planning.

“Patients facing serious and advanced illnesses should have the information and support they need to plan for their care and make their own treatment choices,” Klobuchar said. “Our commonsense bill will help ensure that patients and their families are able to consult with their doctors to understand the full range of treatment options available and shape care plans that reflect their wishes.”

The Care Planning Act:

  • Establishes Medicare reimbursement for healthcare professionals to provide a voluntary and structured discussion about the goals and treatment options for individuals with serious illness, resulting in a documented care plan that reflects the informed choices made by patients in consultation with members of their health care team, faith leaders, family members, and friends.
  • Tests new models for more intensive services for those with advanced illness, and provides funding to support the development of a public information campaign to encourage effective care planning. It also provides grants to develop materials and maintain a website with information about advanced care planning, portable treatment orders, palliative care, hospice, and planning services, and directs the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to include information about advanced care planning in the official Medicare & You handbook.
  • Puts structures in place to focus providers on evidence of patient preferences, such as directives from other states or past discussions about treatment goals, and requires documentation of plans made prior to discharge from health facilities to assure that care plans travel with patients after discharge.
  • Directs HHS to develop quality metrics that will measure synchronicity among the individual’s stated goals, values, and preferences with documented care plans, the treatment that is delivered, and the outcome of treatment.
  • Explicitly prohibits the use of funds in violation of the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act of 1997, and further requires that all services be free from discrimination based on advanced age, disability status, or the presence of advanced illness.

The legislation has been endorsed by more than 40 national and local health care and elder advocacy organizations, including: the AARP, Alliance for Aging Research, Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's Foundation, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, American Association for Long Term Care Nursing, American Geriatrics Society, American Health Care Association, American Heart Association, Augusta Health, Cambia Health Solutions and the Cambia Foundation, Capital Caring, Caregiver Action Network, Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness, Altarum Institute, Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, Compassion and Choices, Connected Health Resources, Dementia Action Alliance, Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences Center, Good Samaritan Hospice, Home Healthcare Hospice and Community Services, Latino Alzheimer's & Memory Disorders Alliance (LAMDA), Latinos Against Alzheimer's, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Association for Home Care & Hospice, National Association of Activity Professionals, National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration/Long Term Care, Inc., National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, National Council on Aging, National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, National Partnership for Hospice Innovation, National Transitions of Care Coalition, Parkinson's Action Network, Second Wind Dreams, SeniorSherpa, Sentara Rockingham Memorial Health Center, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Union for Reform Judaism, University of Virginia Health System, USAgainst Alzheimer’s, and Visiting Nurse Associations of America.

The legislation has bipartisan support in the Senate, including Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).