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Medicare: Barrier to hospice increases hospitalization
Date:10/31/2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] A Medicare rule that blocks thousands of nursing home residents from receiving simultaneous reimbursement for hospice and skilled nursing facility (SNF) care at the end of life may result in those residents receiving more aggressive treatment and hospitalization, according a new analysis.

"This study is the first, to the knowledge of the authors, to attempt to understand how treatments and outcomes vary for nursing home residents with advanced dementia who use Medicare SNF care near the end of life and who do or do not enroll in Medicare hospice," wrote researchers, including lead author Susan Miller, research professor of health services policy and practice at Brown University, in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Miller said the outcomes are often unwanted treatments.

"Unfortunately, given the high use of Medicare skilled care near the end of life and policy that prevents simultaneous Medicare reimbursement for skilled nursing and hospice care, aggressive treatments that may not be the preference of families or their loved ones are common," she said.

The federal government will investigate this issue under the Medicare Hospice Concurrent Care demonstration project mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

About half of all nursing home residents dying with advanced dementia have Medicare SNF care in the last 90 days of life, but residents with this care are not allowed to receive simultaneous hospice and SNF Medicare reimbursement for the same terminal illness. The two services have different medical goals.

Because of the rule, previous research has reported, 46 percent of residents with advanced dementia but no SNF use hospice, while only 30 percent of similar residents who do have SNF use hospice (some residents can still end up with both services simultaneously if, for instance, SNF addresses a different condition than their terminal illness).

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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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