They informed lawmakers that poorly designed regulations impede patient and family access to quality care by requiring providers to disproportionately focus on meeting antiquated regulatory requirements, at times at the expense of providing good, quality care. These hospice leaders called upon Congress to implement reforms that provide regulatory relief so that providers can focus on what they do best: providing comprehensive, coordinated, person-centered care to patients with serious, advanced and life-limiting illness.
During the meeting with lawmakers that included questions to the speakers, Banach, Lloyd and Stawasz reinforced the challenges that hospice providers face that include “a range of duplicative requirements, ineffective mandates, and bureaucratic processes that interfere with day-to-day operations of hospice providers.” Many regulations are outdated because they reflect how hospice care was delivered in the 1980s, not how it exists today.
Lloyd highlighted the requirement that hospice physicians recertify patients who have been in hospice care for more than 180 days through face-to-face visits. Citing the costly, inflexible, and duplicative nature of this requirement, Lloyd proposed allowing physician assistants to perform the necessary face-to-face visits, a reform that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering in its notice of proposed rulemaking.
“We could all do so much better, not just for patients in their final weeks of life, but for all patients with serious, advanced, and life-limiting illness,” Stawasz said. “By making palliative care more widely available and making hospice care available in a timelier fashion, we could improve patient health and quality of life, and likely reduce costs. The hospice and palliative care communities stand ready to work with you all to develop a common-sense, sustainable policy and regulatory framework that allows this to happen.”
In discussing how to provide earlier and higher-quality care, Banach stressed hospice’s role as the “original coordinated care model.”
NHPCO has recently launched the My Hospice Campaign to reinforce the value of the Medicare hospice benefit among policy and healthcare decision makers to foster a policy environment that will support patient access to high quality, comprehensive hospice and palliative care.