Charleston, S.C.-based Heart of Hospice has launched two subsidiaries — Palliative Care at Heart and Supportive Care at Heart, organized under a new parent brand called Care at Heart. Through these new affiliated companies, the hospice intends to engage with patients earlier in the course of their illnesses and create a longitudinal continuum of care.
Heart of Hospice is a portfolio company of Evening Post Industries and cares for nearly 1,700 patients out of 16 locations in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Mississippi in addition to its home state of South Carolina. The new parent brand, Care at Heart, will include Heart of Hospice, the two new subsidiaries, and Kids at Heart, the company’s pediatric program.
“Expanding our service helps us fulfill our vision of transforming the end-of-life care continuum in the communities we serve,” Heart of Hospice CEO Carla Davis said. “While our hospice program continues to grow and provide quality care to eligible patients, we want to ensure everyone facing an advanced illness has access to the care they need and deserve earlier in their disease progression.”
Palliative Care at Heart will operate in a limited number of markets with plans to expand throughout 2021.
The second subsidiary, Supportive Care at Heart, will operate in all markets within the parent company’s service region in which the Primary Care First Serious Illness Population (SIP) payment model is available. The company’s clinicians will provide symptom management while reconnecting patients with community-based primary care providers or transition to hospice when appropriate.
“We created two brands, Palliative Care at Heart and Supportive Care at Heart, because it is still uncertain how the details of each within the healthcare infrastructure will work,” Davis told Hospice News. “The SIP demonstration model will not be available in every market we serve, so we needed a service for patients who live outside the demonstration area but who face the same needs.”
The two subsidiaries will also apply different care delivery models, with the palliative company taking community-based referrals whereas supportive care referrals will come from CMS, according to Davis. The patient populations are not parallel, because not all patients covered through SIP will be approaching the end of life.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Primary Cares initiative in April 2019 and will implement the models in phases beginning in Jan. 2021, initially in 26 regions throughout the United States. Hospices and palliative care organizations are eligible to participate in the payment models provided they meet the program’s criteria. The program is designed to control costs, reduce avoidable hospitalizations and improve care coordination.
Eligible providers can choose to participate in one or more of three payment options under the program: A general payment option and a Seriously Ill Population payment option designed to serve patients with complex, chronic needs, through which providers focused on caring for that population would receive increased payments, as well as a series of direct contracting models.
“Multiple models of care exist for seriously ill patients, and arbitrary lines have been drawn around benefit structures, but we don’t know which of these models — themselves not fully crystallized — will work,” Davis told Hospice News. “We support the SIP demonstration, a future palliative care demonstration, and the evolution of the hospice benefit — whatever the process is, we want to find the solution for the seriously ill population in America and help protect the Medicare health care system.”