The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a press release on January 18, 2019 announcing a new demonstration involving Medicare Part D and updates to the existing model for Medicare Advantage. This includes the ability for MA plans to test offering hospice care services beginning in 2021.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers some comments regarding this announcement from CMS. First and foremost, NHPCO is concerned about any changes that could adversely impact patient and family access to care.
“To the extent that this expansion of the Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) demonstration is about enhanced access and a potential opportunity to ensure that more beneficiaries will get high-quality interdisciplinary care when it is most appropriate, we are encouraged,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach, JD. “If this demonstration restricts choice and access, we will take appropriate action. We will also assure that Congress is engaged on this issue and provides appropriate oversight.”
NHPCO and the hospice community has known that the Administration has prioritized expansion of MA. For this reason, NHPCO has been focused on the issues that will impact the hospice provider community and has engaged with policymakers.
In October 2018, NHPCO hosted the first in a series of convenings on hospice and MA in collaboration with the Better Medicare Alliance, supported by Cambia Health Foundation.
Added Banach, “I can say that we are heartened that CMS noted in its public statement that patients should not have a decision forced upon them and that this new model is voluntary.”
NHPCO will be building upon existing relationship with plans and plan associations to assure that the model will test a variety of geographic variation, plan size, and hospice contracting so any change involving hospice enhances access to quality hospice care.