The Foundation for End-Of-Life Care Discusses Negotiations Around the Hospice Medicare Benefit

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The Foundation for End-of-Life Care, a nonprofit charity that funds the special needs of hospice patients and their families, discussed negotiations around the Hospice Medicare Benefit with the Hospice Foundation of America.

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The Foundation for End-of-Life Care, a nonprofit charity that funds the special needs of hospice patients and their families, discussed negotiations around the Hospice Medicare Benefit with the Hospice Foundation of America.

Amy Tucci, the CEO of the Hospice Foundation of America, interviewed Hugh Westbrook and Esther T. Colliflower, the founders of The Foundation for End-of-Life Care, to discuss the negotiations around the Hospice Medicare Benefit and the current landscape of end-of-life care.

When Tucci asks if the six-month limit for entry into hospice should continue, Westbrook responds that, "No, it should not continue. When we wrote the [hospice] law in Florida, terminal illness was defined as one year or less. That was also proposed for Medicare and it is one of the things that the Republicans at the time on the House Ways and Means Committee refused to accept, and they cut it back from one year to six months. I think six months is too short. I think that we ought to open up hospice and make it available for a longer period of time and pay hospices [so] at least their costs are covered."

Additionally, when expenses are made outside of the traditional realm of hospice care, Medicare will deny payment. For example, if a hospice patient was taken out to the movies, Medicare will review that day and deny payment saying something along the lines of "if they are well enough to go out and go to a movie, they were not terminally ill."

Meanwhile, the hospice team would be thrilled that the patient was able to go to the movies. This type of scenario occurs on a daily basis for individual on the system. Hospice care should be about having a high quality end of life experience however Medicare simply doesn't cover this social or spiritual support.

Tucci goes on to ask about future changes to the benefit and should the government reimburse hospice providers for concurrent care? Westbrook answers by saying, "I think it’s very controversial and very dangerous, but at the same time, I don’t believe that anywhere, politically, would you win an argument that would say to somebody that they don’t have the right to try one more thing to cure themselves, particularly when we are in an environment in which many of the commercials on television are talking about new drugs that are going to cure you from things that were once thought to be incurable."

Westbrook's & Colliflower's additional comments:

  •     The Foundation for End-of-Life Care was established to fund extraordinary expenses outside the traditional realm of hospice, meaning these individuals need resources to advance their quality of end-of-life care.
  •     Extraordinary needs that could be funded by the foundation include mortgage payments/rent, emergency clothing, transportation for family, utility bills, personal items, etc.
  •     Medicare Hospice Benefits don't cover enough and that's why outside nonprofit charities and foundations like ours exist to help those in need.

About The Foundation for End-of-Life Care:
The Foundation for End-of-Life Care, a not-for-profit organization established by Hugh Westbrook and Esther T. Colliflower, was created to improve end-of-life care for individual patients and their families, while supporting fundamental societal change. Hospice care is a very special type of care and philosophy, which focuses on the terminally ill patients’ pain and symptoms, while at the same time, attending to their emotional and spiritual needs. It is estimated that less than one fourth of the terminally ill patients who could benefit from hospice ever use it. This lack of access denies patients and their families the medical, social and spiritual support necessary for a quality end of life experience.

Please call The Foundation for End-Of-Life Care for more information about their special needs hospice programs at 1(877)800-2951.

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