Comprehensive Hospice Policy Brief Demonstrating Value of Medicare’s First “Coordinated Care” Model

Categories: Research.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization announced the publication of Hospice: Leading Interdisciplinary Care, a policy brief outlining key aspects, goals, and benefits of hospice care. Released on March 26, 2019, the document, which was commissioned by NHPCO and developed by Dobson|DaVanzo & Associates, is intended to serve as a comprehensive guide for policymakers and stakeholders who seek to learn more about the Medicare Hospice Benefit and understand why an integrated, person-centered care model should be adopted more broadly in America’s evolving healthcare landscape.

Through evidence-based quantitative research and extensive case-study analysis, Hospice: Leading Interdisciplinary Care illustrates the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial benefits of hospice care for patients, families, and communities throughout the country.

While demonstrating the value of hospice and articulating how the first coordinated care model is best able to meet the unique needs of seriously ill patients and families, the document also provides research showing that hospice care is cost-effective for Medicare and its beneficiaries. By avoiding expensive treatments and procedures solely designed to prolong the life of terminally-ill patients, hospice users save Medicare dollars while still receiving quality, patient-preferred, end-of-life care on their own terms.

The paper also provides important policy considerations to expand access and availability of this critical model of care. Of utmost importance is preservation of the integrity of the Medicare Hospice Benefit during any changes to care delivery. The paper further concludes that knowledge and access to information and services should be widely available for patients and families evaluating advance care planning and treatment options. The paper recommends policymakers consider expanding palliative intervention earlier in disease progression to further ease care transitions to hospice for constituents.

Specifically, the paper offers the following action items as opportunities for advancing the hospice value proposition:

  • Preserve the integrity of the hospice benefit as Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, ACOs and other organizational delivery forms as they expand in coming years
  • Concurrently coordinate the hospice benefit with medical and behavioral care under all Medicare payment models
  • Expand timely access to hospice and palliative care based on the individual’s unique care needs
  • Ensure high-quality supply of hospice care providers and professionals who are poised to address the rapidly aging population seeking hospice and palliative care

“We hope this document will serve as a resource for policymakers and others who want to learn more about hospice, and will highlight the value of hospice as an example of a successful coordinated care model,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “Hospice exemplifies the principles of quality, compassionate, personalized care that works for beneficiaries, payers and policymakers.”

A link to the full policy brief is available here.