created at: 2011-01-06Last year, Medicare paid $55 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients’ lives. That’s a lot of money, especially when considering the estimate that 20 – 30% of these interventions and expenses may have had no meaningful impact. You may think that these potential cost-savings should have been a “no-brainer” for Congress to address as part of the extensive debate about health care reform last year, but alas, you would be mistaken. Instead, a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning was dropped from the legislation in response to Republican arguments that the Democrats would convene “death panels” as a means for the government to cut off care for the critically ill.

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