The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General in July 2019, issued 2 reports on Hospice care in the U.S.:
- First report was on the deficiencies and serious harm to Hospice beneficiaries and vulnerable patient population.
- The second report suggested safeguards must be strengthened to protect Medicare beneficiaries from harm.
Following these reports, 2 separate bills were introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives:
- Hospice Care Improvement Act, introduced in the Senate, November 11, 2019. Addressing the need for greater transparency requiring uniform collection and reporting of Hospice Survey findings.
- Helping our Senior Population in Comfort Environments Act – Hospice Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives February 2020, to establish Survey requirements and enforcement mechanisms against certified Hospice programs.
The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid are initiating new mechanisms to ensure Hospice care implements value-based care, is better regulated, ensures appropriate staffing needs, and promotes safe opioid use.
Hospice care is NOT Palliative Care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, palliative care can demonstrate the differences in meeting the complex care needs of symptomatic patients who are NOT terminally ill – but require aggressive symptom management to improve quality of life