NJ Medicaid may soon Pay for Advance Care Planning

Posted on: December 4th, 2015 by Mark R. Friedman

Following the federal government’s lead, New Jersey may soon allow Medicaid to cover advance care planning.

Medicare recently announced that it would pay for beneficiaries to have conversations with their doctors regarding their wishes for end of life care (called advance care planning in medical / legal parlance).   Following suit, the New New Jersey Senate passed a bill that provides for Medicaid to cover advance care planning (see the underlined language on page 4 of the linked PDF).  The bill still must be passed by the assembly and signed by the governor, but I’m optimistic that will happen.

To clarify, Medicare and Medicaid are both government programs that cover healthcare, but have different requirements for to qualify.  Medicare is a federal program that requires beneficiaries to have worked a certain number of years and paid into Social Security; Medicaid is a state-federal program that requires beneficiaries to have modest assets and income.

Allowing New Jerseyans on Medicaid to access advance care planning is a big step in the right direction, one which I applaud.  I’ve written about this before, and it bears repeating.

We all have to die eventually, and most Americans say they want to do so at home, in their bed, surrounded by family and friends.  Yet in reality, many Americans die in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors and nurses, often being poked and prodded or hooked up to machines.

One of the most intimate decisions in life is how it should end, yet far too many people never get the chance to make it.  The law offers all of us the opportunity to express our wishes regarding end-of-life care, with an advance directive for health care, as well as physician orders for life sustaining treatment (POLST).  Everyone should have a healthcare directive, and providing New Jerseyans on Medicaid with access to advance care planning will help make that so.

If you want to create a healthcare directive for yourself, or a will or power of attorney, or other elements of an estate plan, contact FriedmanLaw to discuss your goals and options.

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