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Hospice Providers Riddled With Deficiencies in Care

Hospice care is meant to provide comfort by reducing suffering and focusing on the quality of life for 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’d like to discuss ways we can help, please contact our office at 973-226-0050.

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