MEDPAC Votes to Slash Hospice Aggregate Payment Cap

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) has voted unanimously to eliminate the update to the Fiscal Year 2021 Medicare base payment rates for hospice for Fiscal Year 2022 and to cut by 20% the hospice aggregate cap.The payment cap is the upper limit to the amount of funds a hospice can collect from Medicare in […]

Fostering Hospice Staff Resilience During COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on hospice staff since its onset. From clinical to back-office operations, the weight of overwhelmed and understaffed teams has added strain to an already burned out and shrinking workforce. Providing care and support to staff will remain a priority as hospice leaders learn lessons from COVID-19. Putting […]

Hospices Can Leverage Mental Health Care for Better Quality, Growth

Hospices are increasingly offering expanded behavioral health services to improve care for patients suffering with serious mental illnesses (SMIs) at the end of life. Rising demand for these services comes at a strenuous time for hospices amid shifting payment policies and a worldwide pandemic. Investing to expand mental health programming poses both challenging financial risks […]

Top Hospice Trends to Watch in 2021

The year 2020 brought unprecedented disruption to the hospice space, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak strained providers ability to provide care, access patients in homes and facilities and to maintain a healthy bottom line in light of lost revenues and rising costs.  Despite these challenges and economic headwinds, hospices adapted, improvised and […]

Congress Members Call for Medicare Palliative Benefit

Members of the congressional physician’s caucus have written to U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to advocate for a Medicare palliative care benefit demonstration. Reps. Neal Dunn, M.D (R-Fla), Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Jeff VanDrew (D-N.J.), and Sen.-Elect Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) signed the letter.  CMS tests the viability and functionality […]

Omnibus Federal Spending Bill Contains Major Hospice Provisions

After much debate, the U.S. Congress approved Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which will keep the government running and fund federal agencies into the new year. The bill, which the president is expected to sign, includes hospice-specific line items intended to improve rural access to services and retool regulatory enforcement, as well as provide COVID-19 […]

NHPCO VP: Be Ready for More Federal Scrutiny

A 40-year veteran of the hospice community, Judi Lund Person, is the vice president for regulatory and compliance for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. She actively works with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure that hospice has a seat at the table when policy and payment decisions are […]

Hospices Brace for COVID-19 Vaccine Costs

Health care workers and long-term care residents are among the highest priority groups as a coronavirus vaccine rolls out across the United States. While enthusiastic about the opportunity to protect staff from COVID-19, hospices remain concerned about vaccination storage costs and increased labor and operational expenses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the […]

Geographic Direct Contracting: Where Hospice Fits

Through the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) forthcoming geographic direct contracting model, participating entities will step into the role of payer as well as provider, including responsibility for program integrity and utilization management. The best opportunity for hospices that wish to be involved would be to establish preferred provider relationships with direct […]

House Approves Bill to Update CMS Hospice Oversight

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act of 2019 (BENES). While the main focus of that bill relates to Medicare eligibility and enrollment, it would also change the frequency of regulatory hospice surveys to every two years instead of every three years, among other provisions. The legislation […]