Wear a Hat for Children’s Palliative Care

On Friday, October 13, advocates and champions for pediatric palliative and hospice care will be wearing hats to raise awareness of the importance of care for young people and their families.

In the run up to World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, with the focus on Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care, the  International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) calls upon everyone around the world to do something fun and very easy to raise awareness of the children who deserve the same universal access to palliative care services as adults.

Wear a hat on Friday 13 October 2017.

Professor Julia Downing, Chief Executive of the ICPCN describes the ICPCN’s campaign, ‘Hats On for Children’s Palliative Care’, as a day on which people, wherever they are in the world, are asked to wear a hat at home, at work, or at school to raise awareness of the need for children’s palliative care services for the more than 21,5 million children who need it.

Donning her own hat and looking very glamorous, Prof Downing has this simple message:

  1. Put on a hat to show your support for cpc globally.
  2. Take a photo and upload it to social media using #HatsOn4CPC
  3. Make a donation to ICPCN or a local children’s palliative care programme

Enjoy yourself and support us through this campaign!

Find out how you can be involved at: http://www.icpcn.org/hatson4cpc/

NHPCO Releases New Report “Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America”

Hospice patients with short period of service continues to be a concern

(Alexandria, Va) – National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization continues to be concerned about the number of people who benefit from the care and services that hospices provide for a short period of time. NHPCO’s newly issued report, Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America (PDF) indicates that just over 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries accessing hospice received care for 14 days or less in 2015.

“The hospice interdisciplinary team is ideally suited to provide care and support to patients and family caregivers throughout the last months of life, not just the last days,” said Edo Banach, NHPCO president and CEO.

“We need to continue reaching out to patients, family caregivers, and other health care professionals to help them understand all the benefits that hospice care brings, particularly when provided in a timely fashion as part of a continuum of care,” Banach added.

Recent research out of the Yale University School of Medical School and published by the Journal of the American Geriatric Society suggests that individuals who access hospice care often do so too late to benefit fully and additional strategies are needed to better address the high burden of distressing symptoms and disability at the end of life.

Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America provides an overview of hospice care delivery in the U.S. with specific information on hospice patient characteristics, location and level of care, Medicare hospice spending, hospice provider characteristics, and more.

Representative statistics from the new report reflecting 2015 data:

  • 4,199 hospices were paid by CMS to provide care under the Medicare hospice benefit.
  • 46 percent of Medicare decedents received one day or more of hospice care and were enrolled in hospice at the time of death.
  • Median length of service was 23 days.
  • 74.9 percent of patients received care for 90 days or less, while those receiving care for more than 180 days accounted for 13.1 percent.
  • Cancer was the most common principle diagnosis accounting for 27.7 percent of patients.
  • 97.8 percent of care was provided at the Routine Home Care level with 55.8 percent of RHC days taking place in the home.

The primary data source used for the findings in NHPCO’s new Facts and Figures report is CMS hospice claims data included in the hospice standard analytical file Limited Data Set. The Hospice Cost Reports, also available from CMS, provided supplemental information. The NHPCO National Data Set is the data source for the Volunteer and Bereavement statistics. The MedPAC March 2017 Report to Congress is the data source for discharges and transfers.

Caring for people with serious and life-limiting illness nearing the end of life is complex, and no other professionals are better equipped to do this than our nation’s hospice and palliative care providers.

More information about hospice care is available from NHPCO’s CaringInfo at caringinfo.org.

Download the new report, Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America (PDF).

How Hospices Respond to Tragedy

We join a heartbroken nation responding to the tragic shooting in Las Vegas.  While no team members of programs that we have spoken with were killed in the shooting, there are a number of hospice staff who have friends and neighbors who were injured and killed. Our thoughts are with them.  As hospice professionals, we know that grief and loss are a part of life.  But there’s something uniquely tragic about loss that stems from blatant disregard for human dignity.  No matter what our political leanings, religious beliefs or social philosophy, I think we can all agree that there is no place for such senseless violence in our society.

Communities often lean on the support and expertise that hospice can offer when tragedies involving loss of life occur. We have heard countless stories of hospice bereavement counselors going above and beyond their everyday job duties in times of need – from rushing to a school after a car accident that claimed a young life, to offering grief support to a local business that experienced the unexpected loss of a beloved colleague, to opening its doors for grief support groups that are developed in response to a community’s unique needs.  So far, we know that Nathan Adelson Hospice has set up a hotline for community partners to call if they need help or support. Infinity Hospice Care sent credentialed staff to UMC Trauma Center the night of the shooting and they helped the overwhelmed hospital staff by serving food to keep them going. Community organizations are gathering in Las Vegas today to organize and assess available resources and individuals who can work together to address the many needs that will arise in the coming days. I am certain the Las Vegas hospice community will be going above and beyond to help those who were affected by this horrific tragedy.

But there is more we can do. If we are ever to move beyond simple “thoughts and prayers,” we are going to have to come together as a country.  And the hospice community is uniquely positioned to help us do that.  Not just by providing grief counseling – which we will most certainly do – but by modeling how even the most vexing, challenging problems can be managed when people come together. By demonstrating how a team is strengthened when it includes a diversity of perspectives.  By embracing a philosophy that is rooted in dignity, respect and compassion.  Indeed, our nation’s leaders could learn a thing or two from the hospice movement.

In the coming months, I’m going to be talking more about how hospice and palliative care professionals can be leaders in helping America cope with its many challenges.  I hope you all will be a part of that conversation. Until then, thank you for the work that you do every day.

By Edo Banach
President and CEO

NHPCO Participates in HHS “Cut the Red Tape” Summit

On October 2, NHPCO joined dozens of other health industry stakeholders at a round-table event at the Department of Health and Human Service’s “Cut the Red Tape Summit.”

The invitation-only event featured key policy leaders, including Acting HHS Secretary Donald Wright, Deputy Assistant Secretary Charles Keckler, CMS Administrator Seema Verma, and FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation and Analysis Anna Abram. The speakers emphasized the Administration’s commitment to reducing regulatory burden, and the need to incentivize innovation, quality, and patient choice in health care.

Following formal remarks, representatives from several health sectors, including primary care, specialty care, emergency care, health systems, and pharmaceutical development, shared their perspectives on the variety of regulatory challenges that are barriers to quality health care.

There was also an informal discussion about the challenges associated with opioid abuse, the need for additional competition as a way to lower pharmaceutical costs, and strategies for improving customer service at CMS.  NHPCO was able to dialogue briefly with Administrator Verma about the need for regulatory relief in hospice, and will be following up with her office in the coming weeks.

HHS officials indicated that the hour-long event was only the first of what will be part of an ongoing conversation about regulatory relief, and is part of the Administration’s larger overall agenda to “cut the red tape” across all federal agencies.

NHPCO will continue to be a part of these conversations, and will keep fighting for fair, common-sense regulations that ensure high quality end of life care for patients and their families.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Photo by Al Drago, NYTimes

September News Roundup

As the nights turn crisper, cuddle up with some hot-off-the-presses hospice and palliative care news:


What’s up on Capitol Hill

NHPCO Submits Recommendations for Hospice Regulatory Relief to House Ways and Means Committee

Rural Hospice Patients Need Your Help!


Regulatory Update

CMS Announces Changes to MAC Medical Review Process

FY2018 Hospice Medicaid Rates Announced

CMS Issues Hurricane Response Guidance


Looking Ahead

November is National Hospice Month. Check out our resources here!

-Please join us Friday, November 3rd for A Day of National Hospice Awareness! Learn more.

-November 11 is Veterans Day. Check out our We Honor Veterans resources here, and make sure you invite your Members of Congress to your Veterans Day Events!


Updated Facts and Figures is here! Get a sneak peak, and stay tuned for more information throughout October!


Good Reads

Hospice In Politico: Read Past the Headlines

NHPCO Applauds New Research Raising Awareness of Value in Earlier Access to Hospice

Jon Keyserling Steps into a New Adventure

-Fall Newsline addresses LGBTQ Care, From Special Population to Inclusion


Advocacy Shoutout

Seasons Hospice in Orange County, CA hosts Congressional Staffer


Don’t forget to check out the latest NHPCO Podcast, What’s a PEPPER Report, and why does my program need one?.


As always, we are keeping a close eye on any changes coming out of Congress, CMS, and the White House. Feel free to share this update with your teams, and please share our current Action Alerts! The more people who contact Congress, the better!


Thanks for all you do!