Money, Profits and Hospice — Undermining an Essential Program

A review of Hospice spending shows an alarming change in mission goals from patient care and comfort to profits;

From 2005 through 2009, Medicare spending on hospice care rose 70% to $4.31 billion, according to Medicare records.

A recent report by the inspector general for Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare, found for-profit hospices were paid 29% more per beneficiary than non-profit hospices. Medicare pays for 84% of all hospice patients.

The article highlighted the investigation of the two largest corporate hospice providers and their alleged fraudulent claims.

Medicynical Note: Trolling nursing homes for “hospice appropriate” patients apparently has become a way to increase revenue. It’s bizarre that Hospices thought it necessary to offer services to patients already in full-time nursing facilities. Two service providers, the nursing home and the hospice, being paid for providing what are, for the most part, the same nursing and support services is a irresistible recipe for waste and in this case fraud.

It should be evident that industry seeks to maximize profit. That’s what capitalism is about. In health care that means leveraging control over products and services by testing the limits of programs–in this case illegally increasing the patient base. It’s an irresistible urge that CEO’s simply can’t resist.

Patient care? Value? Cost Efficiency? Not their department.

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