Once again, the actions of the few bad actors in home health and hospice are getting media attention rather than the vast majority of agencies that are devoted to providing high quality care to keep people comfortable and at home.
In an investigative report, the Washington Post highlights findings that the number of patients discharged alive from hospice rose by 50 percent between 2002 and 2012. The article also highlights numbers from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) stating that in 2011, nearly 60 percent of Medicare’s hospice expenditure of $13.8 billion went toward patients who stay on hospice care longer than six months. The article singles out for-profit hospices in particular, but still puts all hospices in a negative context.
In fact, the article has prompted responses from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) as well as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). In a letter to the editor, NAHC ends their rebuttal by writing:
We must all do our part to ensure that hospice remains a viable choice for terminally ill patients and their loved ones. Articles of this type may unwittingly discourage use of hospice care, thereby denying terminally ill patients and their families access to vital services that support and comfort them during and in the aftermath of one of life’s most difficult journeys. Under these circumstances, no one is well served.
The New York Times’ “New Old Age Blog” digs much deeper into the Washington Post’s findings and notes the many layers to the issue and why those numbers may have surfaced. For instance, the blogger writes:
What’s happening here? Hospices have lamented for years that dying patients wait too long to call, enrolling at the eleventh hour when they could have benefited months earlier. Now, we’re hearing more about patients doing as hospice believers (including me) have urged, calling earlier in the course of a terminal disease — and then, in a substantial minority of cases, getting bounced.
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.