Friday, December 27, 2013

Hospice companies make too much money off Medicare with long-term "survivors"

Hospice firms are draining Medicare and straining the budget process, according to a front page story in the Washington Post on Friday, December 27, 2013 by Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating, link here
Hospice companies, while they say they follow the guidelines by taking on clients whose life expectancy is six months or less, have an incentive to stretch things.  Patients who “survive” longer add to their earnings.  They have to review “survivors” every two months and show medical evidence of further decline. 
The issue appears to occur mainly with in-home care, not with patients who go to hospice facilities for the last few days of their lives.  But it is conceivable for a patient to live longer than expected even there and then wind up in a nursing home.
The article mentions vague diagnoses like "adult failure to thrive".
My own mother entered in-home hospice in November 2009 and survived until December 14, 2010.  She entered the facility on the afternoon of Friday, December 10, 2010 and passed away at noon on December 14.  

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