Five Ways to Improve Care at the End of Life

There is a great article out from the Aspen Institute that gives 5 big-picture changes that would improve care at the end of life. You can read the article here and access their more detailed report here.

The five suggestions they make are:

  1. Emphasize planning for the inevitable
  2. Refine Medicare coverage
  3. Measure the effectiveness of end-of-life care
  4. Train more clinicians in palliative care
  5. Get community input on better models of care

This sounds like a lot of what we focus on here at NHPCO! Is something missing? Let us know in the comments!


Policy Recommendations Letter Sent to Secretary of Dept. of Health and Human Services

NHPCO joined with the Pew Charitable Trusts and many other organizations in sending a series of evidence-based recommendations to improve the quality and effectiveness of hospice and palliative care to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Services Tom Price. The group plans to work with Secretary Price and others in the Administration to implement these recommendations, and to promote public policy that improves the availability, quality, and accessibility of hospice and palliative care for all individuals with serious and life-limiting illness.

Read the full letter here. 

If you would like to send your own letter to your Members of Congress, please download our Introduction letter, available in the Advocacy Toolkit!

First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed.

That headline nearly made me spit out my tea this morning, but the author Jessica Nutik Zitter has a point.

I am a passionate advocate for educating teenagers to be responsible about their sexuality. And I believe it is past time for us to educate them also about death, an equally important stage of life, and one for which the consequences of poor preparedness are as bad, arguably worse. Ideally this education would come early, well before it’s likely to be needed.

I propose that we teach death ed in all of our high schools.

I highly recommend everyone read the full article, available here.  

I personally think she has a great point. Not every person will chose to have sex, but everyone will someday die.  What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Jing Wei

Seema Verma Goes to Washington

Seema Verma, the designee for Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), appeared before the Senate Finance Committee yesterday for her confirmation hearing (watch HAN’s What to Expect in 2017 video for more information about Verma!). Like most confirmation hearings, topics were wide-ranging, from electronic health records, Medicare Advantage, to rural and critical access hospital issues.

Verma’s answers, as is the case for most nominees during confirmation hearings, were somewhat vague. Nominees do not want to be pinned to specific policy options until they can find their new offices. It was clear that the contractor who engineered Healthy Indiana 2.0, Indiana’s Medicaid expansion plan, was more comfortable discussing Medicaid topics than Medicare. Several Medicare policy areas she did speak strongly about were preventing fraud and abusing being a “top priority” for the Medicare program, that she does not support turning Medicare into a voucher program, and including rural providers in the development of policies and regulations. Throughout the hearing, Verma repeated several themes that define her philosophy of healthcare policy that would carry over to her role leading CMS:

“Patients and their doctors should be making decisions about their health care, not the federal government.”

“I will work with the CMS team to ensure that the programs are focused on achieving positive outcomes and to improve the health of the people we serve.”

“I will work toward policies that foster patient-centered care approaches that increase competition, quality, and access while driving down costs.”

We’ll keep you posted on Verma’s progress through her nomination!

Medicare Care Choices Model Update

The Medicare Care Choices Model announced during the CMS Open Door Forum on Wednesday February 8 that four restrictive enrollment requirements have been relaxed.  They include:

  1. April 2016
    1. 2 hospitalizations, reduced to 1 encounter of any kind, including ED, observation or inpatient admission
    2. No participation in Part D, but provider gathers information on drug coverage
  2. January 1, 2017
    1. Reduced 24 months to 12 months of Medicare enrollment to include both Medicare A and Medicare B as the primary insurance.
    2. 3 office visits for eligible diagnosis reduced  to 3 office visits , for any Medicare enrolled physician for any diagnosis.

NHPCO has worked closed with the CMS MCCM staff on eligibility concerns, is pleased with the two additional enrollment changes and will continue the dialogue with CMS to identify additional enrollment barriers and encourage success for both Cohort 1 and for the hospice awardees in Cohort 2, with start up on January 1, 2018.