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When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” [it was] dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.

The proposal for Medicare coverage of advance care planning was omitted from the final health care bill because of the uproar over unsubstantiated claims that it would encourage euthanasia.

A national organization of hospice care providers made the same recommendation.

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