More Inspections of Medicare Hospice Programs
Demanded by New House Bill
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
backs bi-partisan bill
5, 2014 – Just before the House of Representatives slammed the door shut
to go on their August recess, a bi-partisan bill was introduced that
will require “more timely” surveys of Medicare-certified hospice care
programs, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care
The legislation - the Hospice Opportunities for
Supporting Patients with Integrity and Care Evaluations (HOSPICE) Act,
HR 5393 - was introduced on August 1 by Congressmen Tom Reed (R-NY)
and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
The NHPCO says in a news release that it
“enthusiastically supports this new legislation.”
The HOSPICE Act would require that hospices be
surveyed no less frequently than every three years and authorizes
funding for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to
contract for the additional oversight.
“NHPCO has long called for more timely oversight
from CMS and we hope this legislation will bring necessary action on the
part of CMS,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.
“Currently, hospices can go eight years or more
without ever being surveyed which is far too long. More consistent
surveys will help hospices and ultimately benefit the patients and
families they are caring for.”
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) examined
hospice survey frequency in 2007 and 2013 and found that the existing
intervals and resources were inadequate. The mandatory survey frequency
in HR 5393 is consistent with the OIG recommendations.
Additionally, the new bill will make a technical
correction to allow for implementation of existing law requiring CMS to
conduct a medical review of hospice programs that reach a certain
threshold of patients under their care for more than 180 days. This
threshold would be established by CMS. NHPCO has supported this
provision since it was originally recommended by
Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) in 2009.
“These are two important program integrity
provision that have long-been supported by NHPCO. The hospice community
is very serious about compliance and protecting the quality of care that
is promised by the Medicare Hospice Benefit,” stressed Schumacher.
This the NHPCO says the new bill builds on a
provision from the
HELP Hospice Act (HR 2302/S 1053) that addresses mandating hospice
surveys as a critically important program integrity piece.
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