Hospice Community Reacts to AcademyHealth Findings and Announces Related Policy Symposium

Feb 03, 2014, 16:27 ET from National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

NHPCO applauds focus on end-of-life care and calls for additional data collection

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A report released today, "The AcademyHealth Listening Project: Improving the Evidence Base for Medicare Policymaking," identifies end-of-life care as an area where policy makers are seeking additional research.  The survey respondents specifically noted that hospice utilization and length of stay are of particular interest.

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"I am pleased to see that policy makers are interested in better understanding the complexities of end-of-life care and the unique needs of this extremely vulnerable patient population and their families." said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. "The hospice community has long called for additional data collection and research in this vital part of the health care system."

In 2011, an estimated 1.65 million patients received services from hospice. NHPCO estimates that 44.6% of all deaths in the U.S. were under the care of a hospice program.

"While much policy attention has been dedicated to the 10 percent of patients who receive care under the Medicare Hospice Benefit for more than 180 days, there has not been nearly enough attention paid to more than 60 percent that die within 30 days.  We're hopeful that the results of the AcademyHealth Listening Project will add some urgency to understanding this unfortunate phenomenon." said Schumacher.

A patient is eligible for hospice care if a physician determines that the patient has six months or less to live if the terminal illness runs its normal course. Patients must be re-assessed for eligibility at regular intervals, but there is no limit on the amount of time a patient can then spend under hospice care.

Research out of Mount Sinai's Ichan School of Medicine, published in the March 2013 issue of Health Affairs, found that hospice enrollment saves money for Medicare and improves care quality for Medicare beneficiaries with a number of different lengths of services.

In order to create a public dialogue and bring transparency to this complicated set of issues, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's Hospice Action Network (NHPCO HAN) is hosting The Right Care and the Right Time: An Open Conversation on Hospice Length of Stay.

The second annual policy symposium hosted by NHPCO HAN is set for Tuesday, March 25, 2014, from 9:00 AM12:00 PM at Union Station's Columbus Room in Washington, DC.  For event details and registration information, visit hospiceactionnetwork.org/symposium.

Contact: Jon Keyserling, Senior Vice President, Health Policy, Ph: 703-837-3153

SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization