Medicare plans to begin paying doctors to counsel patients about end-of-life decisions, a move fraught with controversy after Sarah Palin termed such services "death panels."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it will pay doctors for discussing with patients the care they would like to receive should they become incapacitated, in a massive proposed rule released Wednesday afternoon. The agency is collecting public comments and will release a final rule in the fall.

"For Medicare beneficiaries who choose to pursue it, advance care planning is a service that includes early conversations between patients and their practitioners, both before an illness progresses and during the course of treatment, to decide on the type of care that is right for them," the agency wrote.

Advance care planning can help reduce unnecessary care and reduce costs in the final few months of patients' lives, when their care is typically the most expensive. Many healthcare advocates, including the American Medical Association, have asked Medicare to pay for the counseling.

Some Republicans have been wary of end-of-life counseling ever since Palin began her "death panel" claims. When President Obama first proposed it early in his presidency, the former Alaska governor, who also served as the GOP's 2008 vice presidential candidate, claimed it would lead to healthcare rationing.

Wednesday's move signals the Obama administration doesn't view it as politically lethal.

"Establishing separate payment for advance care planning codes provides beneficiaries and practitioners greater opportunity and flexibility to utilize these planning sessions at the most appropriate time for patients and their families," the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wrote.