Focused advocacy by the hospice community on recent policy regarding Medicare Part D and payment of drugs for hospice patients led to a stakeholder meeting convened by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on June 25.
NHPCO has acknowledged the importance of a policy that would help the government avoid duplicate payments for medications of beneficiaries under hospice care but have called for a halt to the current policy which lacks CMS guidance and has resulted in confusion.
“The CMS stakeholders meeting was an important first step at righting the wrongs being faced by dying Medicare patients. The participants from the hospice and beneficiary communities, as well as the pharmacies and Part D plans, were in complete agreement about one thing: implementation of the new policy is unnecessarily depriving patients of their necessary medications and must be halted. NHPCO acknowledges that these are unintended consequences of the policy and hopes to work with CMS and the stakeholders toward a system that protects vulnerable hospice patients and the Medicare trust fund,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.
“Clearly, the system that recently went into effect wasn’t ready for prime time, and something drastic has to be done to protect dying patients who need their medications in a timely fashion. We are hopeful that CMS will acknowledge the urgency of the situation and act quickly to halt the implementation of the policy,” added Schumacher.
NHPCO reports that a study among hospice providers found that 86 percent of 1,385 respondents reported a negative experience with a Part D plan getting prescriptions filled for patients unrelated to the terminal illness. Additionally, 34 percent of those providers report delays in patients receiving other medications.
Medications unrelated to the terminal diagnosis should be covered by Part D, or the patient, and not the hospice provider.
Congressional sign-on letters are being circulated by Senators Rockefeller and Roberts (PDF) and Representatives Reed and Thompson (PDF) bringing additional focus to this key issue. The closing date for the sign-on letters are June 25 for the Senate letter and June 26 for the House letter.
A list of signatories as of June 26 is on the HAN website.