By Arnie Burchianti
Reprinted with permission from Celtic Healthcare
It saddens me to realize the continued misunderstanding of the true meaning, benefits, and value of hospice care.
I recently read a blog post by Alan Cato, MD on KevinMD.com entitled, “The problem of hospice in nursing homes.” Cato commented on “boutique care being driven by entrepreneurial interests,” and stated, “In the nursing homes, hospice care should be the responsibility of the attending physicians and nurses already being remunerated by Medicare for caring for their patients.”
The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the services of the hospice team to supplement the usual nursing home care at a difficult time when nursing home staff, family members and the patient are facing the increased and urgent needs associated with the end-of-life process. The Medicare Hospice Benefit cannot be provided to nursing home residents who are receiving skilled Medicare coverage if their diagnoses for both hospice and nursing home skilled care are the same. Before the Medicare Hospice Benefit can be initiated, patients may choose to use all their skilled care days or elect to waive their skilled coverage. Hospice care in nursing homes is not “double dipping” as stated by Cato in his post.