Medicare's Hospice Benefit: In the Spotlight
August 1, 2008
Mary Ellen Stahlman
Medicare’s hospice benefit is in the spotlight because of notable increases in Medicare expenditures on hospice care, the number of beneficiaries served by hospice and the number of days they spend in hospice care, the number of new Medicare-participating hospices (particularly for-profit hospices), and hospices that exceed the annual payment limit, or cap. Policymakers eye these trends warily because they have little information on the number, type, and duration of services delivered to perhaps the most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries. This session examined the trends and assessed whether they point to the need for change. It also explored the state of hospice quality measurement, improvement, and reporting, which some say lags behind advances in quality measurement for other health care benefits. The session featured the perspectives of a senior policy advisor to Congress, a nurse administrator from a non-profit hospice, a medical director from a for-profit multi-state organization, and a retired federal official responsible for implementing the hospice benefit in the early 1980s.
Mark Miller, PhD, Executive Director, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission; Susan Lloyd, President and Chief Executive Officer, Delaware Hospice; Barry Kinzbrunner, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, VITAS Innovative Hospice CareWith Commentary From:Thomas Hoyer, Former Director, Chronic Care Policy Group, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services