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Timing and setting of billed advance care planning among Medicare decedents in 2017-2019.

Gotanda H, Walling AM, Zhang JJ, Xu H, Tsugawa Y. Timing and setting of billed advance care planning among Medicare decedents in 2017-2019. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2023 Oct 1; 71(10):3237-3243.

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BACKGROUND: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began to reimburse clinicians for advance care planning (ACP) discussions, effective January 1, 2016. We sought to characterize the timing and setting of first-billed ACP discussions among Medicare decedents to inform future research on ACP billing codes. METHODS: Using a random 20% sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 66?years and older who died in 2017-2019, we described the timing (relative to death) and setting (inpatient, nursing home, office, or outpatient with or without Medicare Annual Wellness Visit [AWV], home or community, or elsewhere) of the first-billed ACP discussion for each beneficiary. RESULTS: Our study included 695,985 decedents (mean [SD] years of age, 83.2 [8.8]; 54.2% female); the proportion of decedents who had at least one billed ACP discussion increased from 9.7% in 2017 to 21.9% in 2019. We found that the proportion of first-billed ACP discussions held during the last month of life decreased from 37.0% in 2017 to 26.2% in 2019, while the proportion of first-billed ACP discussions held more than 12?months before death increased from 11.1% in 2017 to 35.2% in 2019. We also found that the proportion of first-billed ACP discussions held in the office or outpatient setting along with AWV increased over time (from 10.7% in 2017 to 14.1% in 2019), while the proportion held in the inpatient setting decreased (from 41.7% in 2017 to 38.0% in 2019). CONCLUSIONS: We found that with increasing exposure to the CMS policy change, uptake of the ACP billing code has increased; first-billed ACP discussions are occurring sooner before the end-of-life stage and are more likely to occur with AWV. Future studies should evaluate changes in ACP practice patterns, rather than only an increasing uptake in ACP billing codes, following the policy implementation.

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