America’s Growing Hospice Crisis

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Here are excerpts from a troubling article in the Huffington Post about hospice care and the lack of government inspections.

The U.S. hospice industry is booming. Government data shows that in 2014, nearly half of all Medicare patients who die will do so as a hospice patient — twice as many as a decade ago. Medicare will spend $15 billion on hospice care this year, four times more than in 2000, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Hospice, in short, isn’t a niche health service anymore. Yet government regulators still treat it as such, consistently rating it as a lower priority for inspection than traditional health facilities. A Huffington Post investigation found that the average hospice hasn’t been certified — meaning fully inspected — in 3 ½ years. HuffPost identified 759 hospices that haven’t been certified in more than six years. (Nursing homes, by contrast, must be inspected under federal law every 15 months).

These inspections, typically conducted by state health departments, are intended to make sure hospices are doing all they can to promote patient health and safety. (Other forms of spot inspections, usually responding to a specific complaint, may happen more often.)

To learn more about the hospices in your area, use our Hospice Check tool.

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