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Lack of Oversight for Hospice Care Providers

Jad Stepp

When a loved one enters hospice care, the whole point is to provide peace of mind and comfort to the patient and the family.  And yet a lack of regulation, oversight, and available information means that isn’t always the case.

The HSS Inspector General has found that, between 2012 and 2016, health inspectors cited 87% of hospices for deficiencies. In 20% of hospices, these deficiencies were serious – serious enough to endanger patients. For-profit hospice agencies are more likely than to have non-profits, likely because decreasing staff increases profit margins.

There aren’t many options for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to discipline hospices. They can drop hospices from the Medicare program, but they can’t assess fines or install temporary management. Many complaints can’t be substantiated, and even when they are, that information doesn’t become readily available to consumers. CMS could put citations for deficiencies and complaints on their website for consumers, Hospice Compare, but they don’t.

The CMS Inspector General has recommended that legislators strengthen hospice standards, increase inspections, streamline the complaint and investigation process, and improve accountability and availability of information. Whether we will see improvements in the near future remains to be seen.

Choosing long term care for a loved one can be challenging. We help families find good long term care and work with them on how to pay for the care. If you would like to talk about your needs, please contact our Houston office at 713-903-3264 to schedule an appointment.

Read more at:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/07/09/739471717/hospice-oig-reports

https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-lopez-hospice-complaint-20190216-story.html

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-09/hospice-mother-california-complaint

 

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