Paul Lorrah - Medicaid Plus, P.C
Patients looking for hospice care can now get help from Medicare’s website. The agency’s new Hospice Compare site allows patients to evaluate hospice providers according to several criteria.
Medicare's comprehensive hospice benefit covers any care that is reasonable and necessary for easing the course of a terminal illness. Medicare launched the hospice compare website to improve transparency and help families find the right hospice provider.
The website provides information on how hospices deal with treatment preferences, address a patient's beliefs and values, screen and assess for pain and shortness of breath, treat shortness of breath, and give a bowel regimen for patients treated with opioids. Patients can compare up to three hospices at a time.
Next year, the site plans to add more information, including allowing families to rate hospices as well as adding data on the number of staff visits a patient received in the final week before death.
Kaiser Health News reports that while the website is helpful to families looking for information about hospice care, patients looking for hospice care need additional information, including the hospice staff's average caseload, the percentage of patients discharged alive, and the share of the hospice's resources devoted to at-home care versus nursing home care.
A robust hospice rating system is badly needed, according to a Kaiser Health News investigation. A review of 20,000 government inspection records found that some hospice providers often missed visits and neglected patients who were dying at home. Families or caregivers have filed more than 3,200 complaints with state officials in the past five years.
To begin comparing hospice providers, click here.
Author Paul Lorrah is a Medicaid and Long Term Care Planning expert who has authored such books as "Planning and Paying for Long Term Care' and "How to Get Medicaid to Pay for Your Long Term Care Costs".