In Politico’s September 27 article titled “Hospice in Crisis,” reporter Joanne Kenen did a commendable job exploring the demographic, competitive and policy changes that are challenging the hospice industry. The headline, unfortunately, is misleading and inaccurate. While it is true that Hospices are challenged by changing demographics and growing patient needs, the crisis is most acutely felt by patients and their families, not providers.
When the decision to access the hospice benefit is delayed until the patient is actively dying, patients and family caregivers are unable to fully utilize and benefit from the wide range of services that hospices can provide. The fact of the matter is that patients and families should be accessing hospice services sooner to enable hospice’s skilled, caring professionals to adequately care for, support, educate and prepare individuals and their loved ones for end of life.
Family surveys overwhelmingly state they wish they had engaged hospice much sooner. In fact, thirty-five percent of hospice patients receive care for only 7 days or less, illustrating an opportunity to utilize hospice services earlier.
In summary, earlier access to palliative care and hospice care will ensure patients receive better pain and symptom relief, spend quality time with their families, avoid unnecessary hospital stays and find spiritual peace at the end of life. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, representing more than 1200 hospice providers nationwide, looks forward to working with Congress, the Administration and other stakeholders to enact policy changes that allow patients to receive palliative care earlier, expand access to concurrent hospice care, and support the delivery of services that improve care for individuals with serious and advanced illness near and at the end-of-life.
Read the article on the Politico website.