Bipartisan Legislation to Enhance Smarter Oversight of Hospice Care

Categories: Policy.

NHPCO will Continue to Work with Congress on Hospice Access and Program Integrity Legislation

The  Hospice Care Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2807), a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate on November 7, 2019, by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This legislation follows OIG reports released in July 2019 that outlined deficiencies with CMS monitoring of hospice and examples of poor care.

NHPCO works closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure that hospice patients and their families have access to high quality hospice care and are encouraged to see many of the hospice and palliative care community’s policy priorities reflected in this bill.

“As the leading organization representing over 4,000 hospice providers that serve a majority of the hospice patients, NHPCO supports the reasonable policies outlined in the bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) which focuses on implementing new safeguards and strengthening existing ones in order to protect patients facing serious illness at the end of life,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration on enhancing access to high quality, interdisciplinary, person-centered care for those facing serious illness, including those in underserved and rural areas. NHPCO supports regulations that promote accountability and safety and is eager to work with lawmakers to develop reasonable policies and enforcement mechanisms that promote program integrity. We must also update the hospice benefit and codify a palliative care benefit to allow people to get appropriate care when they need it.”

The Hospice Care Improvement Act of 2019 includes provisions that aim to improve the hospice survey process by requiring any newly-certified hospice program to be surveyed within 12 months of certification. Hospices that received condition-level deficiencies during a survey will be subject to another review every 12 months.  Additionally, the legislation includes support for increased collaboration between hospice providers and accrediting organizations and state survey agencies. These provisions would require the surveying entity to provide educational information to hospices when deficiencies are identified so they can be corrected and prevented in the future.

The bill also prioritizes consumer education by supporting access to relevant and clear information about hospice providers, intended to lead to greater transparency and more informed care decisions. State and local survey agencies and accrediting agencies will be required to report survey information, including targeted deficiencies to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Hospice Compare website.

Congress has worked with key stakeholders to understand the intersection of high-quality care and program integrity. NHPCO and the Hospice Action Network look forward to continuing to work with Senators Portman and Cardin as this legislation advances to achieve this important goal. To stay up-to-date with the latest in hospice and palliative care legislative news, visit the Hospice Action Network’s Legislative Action Center.

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