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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Report] Medicare Hospices Have Financial Incentives To Provide Care in Assisted Living Facilities | Full Text Reports…


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From the executive summary of the January 2015 report by Department of Health and Human Services, OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

Medicare hospice care is intended to help terminally ill beneficiaries continue life with
minimal disruption and to support families and caregivers. Care may be provided in
various settings, including a private home or other places of residence, such as an assisted
living facility (ALF). Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) must reform the hospice payment
system, collect data relevant to revising payments, and develop quality measures. This
report provides information to inform those decisions and is part of the Office of
Inspector General’s (OIG) larger body of work on hospice care. While the report focuses
on ALFs, many of the issues identified pertain to the hospice benefit more broadly.
We based this study on an analysis of all Medicare hospice claims from 2007 through
2012. We used Certification and Survey Provider Enhanced Reports data and Healthcare
Cost Report Information System reports for information on hospice characteristics.
Medicare payments for hospice care in ALFs more than doubled in 5 years, totaling
$2.1 billion in 2012. Hospices provided care much longer and received much higher
Medicare payments for beneficiaries in ALFs than for beneficiaries in other settings.
Hospice beneficiaries in ALFs often had diagnoses that usually require less complex care.
Hospices typically provided fewer than 5 hours of visits and were paid about $1,100 per
week for each beneficiary receiving routine home care in ALFs. Also, for-profit hospices
received much higher Medicare payments per beneficiary than nonprofit hospices. This
report raises concerns about the financial incentives created by the current payment
system and the potential for hospices to target beneficiaries in ALFs because they may
offer the hospices the greatest financial gain. Together, the findings in this and previous
OIG reports show that payment reform and more accountability are needed to reduce
incentives for hospices to focus solely on certain types of diagnoses or settings.
We recommend that CMS, as part of its ongoing hospice reform efforts: (1) reform
payments to reduce the incentive for hospices to target beneficiaries with certain
diagnoses and those likely to have long stays, (2) target certain hospices for review, (3)
develop and adopt claims-based measures of quality, (4) make hospice data publicly
available for beneficiaries, and (5) provide additional information to hospices to educate
them about how they compare to their peers. CMS concurred with all five

January 21, 2015 - Posted by | health care | , ,

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