American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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From the February 1998 ACP Observer, copyright © 1998 by the American College of Physicians.

End-of-life care bill introduced

A bill to improve end-of-life care and decision-making has been introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The Advance Planning and Compassionate Care Act would make advance directives valid across state lines, expand Medicare drug benefits to include non-intravenous medications for pain relief in patients with life-threatening diseases, create a national 24-hour hot line with information on how and where to get expert end-of-life care, and direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study and advise Congress on how to further improve end-of-life care and decision-making.

ACP, meanwhile, has convened a panel of nationally-known experts to study and make recommendations on end-of-life care. After approval from the Board of Regents, the findings will be shared with Congress and other groups involved in similar endeavors.

Medicare allows NPs to bill directly

Medicare is now allowing nurse practitioners (NPs) who work independently to bill Medicare directly for their services.

The provision, which allows NPs to get their own Medicare billing numbers, was included in the federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and took effect Jan. 1. Until now, NPs were only allowed to bill Medicare under a doctor's Medicare provider identification number.

NPs' ability to bill Medicare directly will vary from state to state and depend on local laws that limit NP practices. For more information, call your local Medicare carrier.

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