A Quality Measures Public Workshop – Register Today!

On April 17, 2018, the Roundtable on Quality Care for People with Serious illness will host a public workshop on the implementation of quality measures for community-based care programs for serious illness.  NHPCO’s own Vice President of Research and Quality and Health Policy, Carol Spence, will be a presenter and you won’t want to miss out on all of the knowledge that will be shared!

For more information about this event, read the description below:

Millions of people currently live with one or more serious illnesses such as cancer, heart, lung, or kidney disease. Serious illness knows no age limits and affects those from the preborn to those of advanced age. The number of community-based programs to provide care to those facing serious illness have grown significantly, but the quality of care provided is not consistent across geographic locations or care settings. To ensure the best care for all people living with serious illness, it is important to implement quality measures in a way that will hold providers accountable for the delivery of high-quality care.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Quality Care for People with Serious Illness is hosting a public workshop, Implementing Quality Measures for Accountability in Community-based Care for People with Serious Illness. Workshop presentations will explore the gaps, challenges, and opportunities in quality measures implementation for accountability purposes and will highlight the perspectives of health care providers and payers. Implementation of quality measures in the context of public programs and potential policy levers to affect change will also be discussed. Innovative approaches to the use of accreditation to enhance accountability will be explored, as well as ways to support clinical communities for quality and accountability. The workshop program will begin with a conversation about what quality care means for patients, families, and caregivers, and will explore ways to better align quality information and resources to reflect their values and needs. Shantanu Agrawal, MD, CEO and President of NQF, will present the Keynote address.


NHPCO Applauds Introduction of Opioid Disposal Bill

On February 15th, U.S. Representative Tim Walberg (MI-07) introduced H.R. 5041, the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, in response to America’s opioid crisis.  Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Richard Hudson (NC-08) joined Rep. Walberg as original cosponsors of the bill. This legislation would help prevent the misuse or diversion of unused medications by equipping hospice professionals with the legal authority to safely dispose of unused drugs after a hospice patient’s death.

In a press release, Rep. Walberg stated “Many patients receiving hospice care need painkillers to help with end-of-life pain, but any leftover medication can unfortunately end up in the wrong hands.”  The hospice community is actively working toward avoiding drug diversion and this bill is a common-sense approach that will help curtail the opioid problem.  NHPCO supports this bill, appreciates Congressman Walberg’s leadership, and looks forward to working with him in the future. Stay tuned for a one-page brief on this legislation and information on how you can help.

NHPCO Responds to Opioid Crisis

The Senate Finance Committee recently solicited input from NHPCO and other stakeholders on ways to address the opioid epidemic as it relates to Medicare, Medicaid, and Human Services programs.  NHPCO responded to the inquiry, outlining some important details regarding opioids’ role in end-of-life care, how the hospice community is actively working toward avoiding drug diversion and how hospice and palliative care providers can play an even greater role in helping with the treatment of serious pain.

NHPCO also highlighted how many hospices offer grief and bereavement support to communities that are experiencing loss as a result of the opioid epidemic.

NHPCO will continue to work closely with policymakers state and federal policy changes do not unintentionally impair the hospice and palliative care community’s ability to effectively manage their patient’s pain and symptoms.

To read the letter, click here.

Hospice and Palliative Care Champions at Work!

Hospice and palliative care champions, Senator Johnny Isakson, Senator Mark Warner, Representative Phil Roe, and Representative Earl Blumenauer sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma this week urging them to take administrative action in regards to the Patient Choice and Quality Care Act (PCQCA).  PCQCA would allow a person-centered approach to planning for the care and treatment of patients with advanced illness and will help patients, families, and providers understand care options and choices. Specifically the letter urges CMS to develop a patient-centered advanced care management model, develop better quality measures across the care continuum, and expand the Beneficiary Engagement and Incentives Model to include advanced illness management.

Furthermore, during a Ways and Means Committee Hearing yesterday, Congressman Blumenauer discussed how to improve end-of-life care with HHS Secretary Alex Azar.  The transcript and clip is below:

Rep. Blumenauer – “…One of the things I appreciated in your testimony during your confirmation was a reference being sensitive to the needs of American families facing challenges at the end of life and what can we do to be able to strengthen the protections to be able to make sure they get the care that they want. We’ve made some progress, it was more trouble than I thought with the last Administration but we’re moving some things forward. My good friend Dr. Roe and I have bipartisan legislation, that’s been broadly supported, H.R. 2797, and I would hope that there would be a way to work with you to drill down to deal with making sure we advance models, like in our legislation, to make sure that patients all patients have timely access to palliative and hospice care and to be able to have progress dealing with quality measurements to make sure we are monitoring what is in fact happening and to make sure we have confidence in that.”

Secretary Azar – “…I share your goals there and I want to ensure that individuals who are facing the end of life can do so an approach it with dignity and that we’re helping them in the setting that they wish to be in and also that they can face those issues that they’re facing with as much clarity for family members and others about their own desires and plans as possible, so I look forward to working with you in this area.”

Rep.  Blumenauer – “Great. I would appreciate the opportunity to refine that, to make sure their wishes are honored, that they follow them in the era of electronic medical records. I think there is a lot of bipartisan opportunity to get more out of the system and I look forward to working with you on it.”

His remarks can also be found here at the 49:45 minute mark.

NHPCO is especially appreciative of these policy-making champions leadership on behalf of patients and families nearing the end-of-life and looks forward to working with them to better promote the interest of hospice and palliative care providers.



President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget Proposal

On Monday, President Trump released a 4.4 trillion dollar FY 2019 budget proposal.  While the budget would boost military spending and increase border security, it would provide major cuts to many domestic programs. For the healthcare community , the proposal calls for billions of dollars in savings through changes in Medicare and Medicaid and a boost in health spending to combat opioid abuse and mental health and drug-related issues.

Although Trump pledged not to interfere with the Medicare entitlement program, his plan would expand Medicare’s policy on site-neutral payments, in which providers would be paid equally regardless of where they deliver care, saving taxpayers an estimated $80 billion over a decade.  Another $34 billion would be saved by paying independent practices the same as hospital-owned doctor practices.  On Medicaid, Trump intends to rescind Obamacare’s expansion, instead providing block grant funding to states.  The proposal would make it easier for states to move toward managed care, increase co-payments for emergency room visits, and reinforce requirements that Medicaid recipients show immigration status before enrolling.

President Trump’s budget proposes $10 billion in discretionary funding for the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to combat America’s opioid crisis and assist in programs geared toward curbing drug abuse and mental health related issues.  This is an effort to expand drug abuse prevention, treatment and recovery programs and give HHS more opportunity to direct resources toward this growing issue.  The budget also seeks to crack down on high-opioid prescribers and utilizers in Medicaid and would require plans to participate in a program to prevent prescription drug abuse in Medicare Part B.  Furthermore, while many states are tackling the opioid issue with more stringent prescribing and disposal laws, many of these laws include exemptions for prescribers treating patients under hospice care. NHPCO believes that these exemptions recognize the sensitivity and vulnerability of those suffering advanced illness and at the end of life, and accommodate their needs. It is crucial that these exemptions are preserved and further efforts to reduce opioid prescribing do not unintentionally decrease the ability of hospice and palliative care providers to manage their patients’ pain needs effectively.

NHPCO will closely track this proposal and weigh in with policymakers to ensure that the interests of the hospice and palliative care community are protected.