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New Regulations for Hospice Provision Published by CMS

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Welcomes Publication of Final Rule

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the first time since the Medicare Hospice Conditions of Participation were created in 1983, the regulations for Medicare certified hospice providers issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been significantly revised. The new Conditions of Participation (CoPs) have a strong focus on patient centered care that emphasizes quality assessment and performance improvement and patient outcomes.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the nation's oldest and largest leadership organization representing hospice and palliative care providers and professionals, applauds the publication of the new CoPs. NHPCO looks forward to working collaboratively with regulators hospices to ensure that patients and family caregivers receiving hospice care at the end of life can be assured of the highest standards of care.

The final rule for the Medicare Hospice CoPs was published today in the Federal Register. Medicare certified hospices have 180 days in which to become compliant with the new regulations that go into effect on December 2, 2008.

NHPCO hosted a two-day intensive conference for state leaders, the organization's board and regulatory committee, and invited guests in Baltimore on June 4 and 5. The two-day event was carried out to NHPCO members throughout the country via live-streaming Internet broadcast; more than 650 programs audited the proceedings via the Web from their offices.

Presenting at the event were CMS staff members involved with the development of the final rule who provided insight into the reasoning behind some of the changes in regulation. Additionally, Barry Straub, MD, chief medical officer at CMS and the director of the Office of Clinical Standards and Quality joined the more than 300 hospice leaders at the meeting on Thursday, the official publication day of the new rule.

In his remarks at the NHPCO meeting, Dr. Straub said, "This rule will improve quality of care overall and provide flexibility for hospices to do the work they need to do - and this is a framework we must build on."

Since the proposed CoPs were released three years ago, NHPCO has been actively developing initiatives and programs focusing on quality and performance measurement. These include NHPCO's Quality Partners initiative and several research, data collection and benchmarking tools available to hospice providers.

"The hospice community has eagerly awaited the publication of the new Conditions of Participation since the proposed rule was released in May of 2005," remarked J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of NHPCO. "The new CoPs will ensure a framework of quality that benefit patients, families, and the organizations providing care at life's end. The new CoPs along with tools and resources available from NHPCO will help all providers continue to strive for the highest levels of quality and access."

More than 1.3 million dying Americans received care from the nation's hospice providers last year. This number has risen and continues to grow as more patients learn of the wide range of beneficial services and the compassionate care that hospice offers.

Hospice care is considered to be the model for high-quality care at the end of life. Hospice involves a team-oriented approach to care that includes expert medical attention, pain-and-symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support. The quality of a person's life is emphasized, not the duration. Moreover, services and support are provided to family caregivers, in addition to the patient.

The economic value of hospice care has been validated by research. An independent study released late last year by Duke University found that the use of hospice saved Medicare an average of $2,300 per patient who received this care.

Noted Schumacher, "It's wonderful to know that the care so highly-regarded at life's end also provides savings to Medicare."


Jon Radulovic

NHPCO Vice President, Communications

Ph: 703/837-3139

Cell: 571-259-5026

SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
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