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More Data Needed Before Changing Medicare Hospice Funding, Report Finds
Date:6/13/2008

lan to dramatically cut hospice reimbursement rates, a move that would lead to hospice closures and force many patients into more expensive, impersonal acute care settings. It's unjustifiable based on currently available data," said Keyserling.

MedPAC noted that there are no standardized data collection methods or models to analyze hospice operations. Data are also lacking when it comes to tracking the services provided to patients with specific diagnoses, making it difficult to gauge whether Medicare reimbursements are in line with the cost of hospice care.

In the past, Congress has rejected Administration requests to reduce the level of hospice reimbursement, realizing the harmful impact such cuts would have on care at the bedside. Today, sentiment on Capitol Hill largely remains the same -- a bicameral and bipartisan group of more than 90 members of Congress have sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt in opposition to the proposed rule.

Hospices provide compassionate care for those reaching the end of life, and they do it while saving Medicare an average of $2,300 per patient, according to an independent 2007 Duke University study, amounting to savings of more than $2 billion last year. The focus is on caring, not curing, and, in most cases, care is provided in the patient's home.

Hospice programs served more than 1.3 million patients and their families in 2006 and that number is expected to continue to rise as more terminally ill patients seek high quality, compassionate end-of-life care. Close to 99 percent of families who experienced hospice for their loved one would recommend it to others.

The Alliance for Care at the End of Life

The Alliance for Care at the End of Life is a 501(c) 4 organization created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) to provide a more aggressive and comprehensive advocacy voice to serve the entire field and, ultimately, one of America's mos
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SOURCE Alliance for Care at the End of Life
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