When a loved one is passing away, it’s not always easily handled by friends and family. Not just the emotional aspect however, the aspect of taking care of them during that time can be quite difficult as well. This is where hospice comes in and lends a helping hand to ensure patients are comfortable and family members and friends receive relief in order to not be so overwhelmed. However, this type of care can get pricey and it only seems the pricing is going up. Not only does this cause hospice to not be an option for some, it also can leave others in a financial hardship. On top of this, hospice workers may be limited and left with tied hands when it comes to patient care.

As the new fiscal year approaches for 2020, there have been some changes proposed by CMS concerning payment rates, wage index, and cap amount within hospice care facilities. There has also been an addendum proposed that would change the transparency of patient care coverage. However, these changes propose a challenge for hospice care rather than helping them ensure better and easier care for their patients.

What is Hospice?

Hospice is in-home care or a long term care facility when a person needs around the clock care or they’re not expected to make it beyond another six months. Of course, this doesn’t mean they’re definitely going to die within six months however, they may have a condition that looks grim with little in the way of treatment available to them outside of making them comfortable. This kind of care can occur with a nurse coming into the home or staying in the home. This type of care is also found in places such as nursing homes.

What are the Changes and What’s the Problem?

The changes proposed will lower the reimbursement rate the hospice care facilities are receiving from Medicare. Any person walking into a nursing home can see that they’re always short staffed and doing the best they can with what they’re given. If this proposal is approved, Coalition states that, “98% of hospice care is delivered at the Routine Home Care (RHC) rate and the CMS proposal to reduce those rates by -2.71% will impact access to hospice care for some beneficiaries as hospices must adjust their budgets to address rising costs for personnel and the competition for clinical staff with other health care providers in their areas, as well as increasing costs for travel and medications.”

In other words, although many hospice facilities already struggle to keep up with budget rates, they will be further pushed to compensate. This only affects the patients and their families as well as the level of care the hospice facilities can provide. On top of all of this, the addendum proposed will cause a lot more paperwork each time something as small as a medication has to be adjusted or changed for a patient. Although the thought behind this addendum was a nice one, the details are very broad causing many unnecessary man hours to be misdirected from patients to paperwork.