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NHPCO Statement on MedPAC Recommendations to Congress
Date:2/27/2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization released the following statement upon the release of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's (MedPAC) March report to Congress. The report includes recommendations to revise the Medicare hospice benefit.

Each year, more than 1.4 million patients and family caregivers seek hospice care. The Medicare hospice benefit is responsible for millions of people living as fully as possible until the end of life. The hospice community is dedicated to not only preserving the benefit, but enhancing it so that hospice is able to continue to appropriately serve the unique and changing needs of dying Americans. Hospice and palliative care providers, through the support that comes from Medicare, are recognized as the leading providers of the interdisciplinary, holistic care considered to be the "gold standard" of end-of-life care.

Hospice care is also cost-effective. As was reported in a 2007 Duke University study, hospice reduced Medicare costs by an average of $2,300 per patient, amounting to a $2 billion savings in a single year.

Statement on MedPAC's Recommendations for Hospice Reform:

"Over the past several years, MedPAC has undertaken a review of the Medicare hospice benefit. While specific reforms and enhanced accountability measures are laudable and should be encouraged, those changes should be framed in the context of a comprehensive review of the various and complex components of end-of-life care, and how the continuum of care can be expanded to increase access for patients and families. Included in this comprehensive review of hospice should be payment methodologies, fiscal constraints review, alternative eligibility criteria, testing of new models of care, as well as any number of other issues. The hospice community is committed to work toward these goals.

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SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
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