An Advocacy Message from Edo Banach

Dear Advocates,

I invite your organization to participate in the 2017 Hospice Action Network Advocacy Intensive on July 17-18 in Washington, D.C. This event gives hospice programs nationwide an opportunity to stand as one community and speak with one voice on Capitol Hill – a voice for the patients and families we serve across the nation.

We face constant change and uncertainty in health care and beyond. It is crucial that we seize the opportunity to educate policy makers about hospice and palliative care. And who better to tell the stories of hospice care than the nurses, social workers, chaplains, volunteers, and the many others who provide care at the bedside every day?

The HAN Advocacy Intensive offers a comprehensive educational program for beginners and experienced advocates alike. Attendees will learn best practices to become effective hospice advocates, and how to build relationships with policy-makers over time. This is the best opportunity for the hospice community to learn the skills needed to influence the legislators and staff who are shaping the future of healthcare.

Your patients need a voice in Washington. You can be that voice.

Please join us for the 2017 Hospice Action Network Advocacy Intensive.


Edo Banach, JD
President & CEO
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

This Thanksgiving Talk about the Care You Would Want

NHPCO Encourages Americans to Spend Time Talking about Health Care Choices before Facing a Crisis

(Alexandria, Va) –A family is gathered by the bedside of a loved one who has been seriously ill, and now is likely near the end of life. Each member of the family has a different idea of what should be done and what their loved one would have wanted. That’s the point when they realize they should have planned ahead and talked about what they each would want in a medical crisis.

Heartbreaking scenes like this happen far too often.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is encouraging families to spend time when they may be gathered for the holidays, to talk about the care they would or would not want. This is particularly important if a family is coping with a serious or life-limiting illness of a loved one.

Having discussions about one’s health care wishes is part of advance care planning.

Advance care planning involves making decisions about the care you would want to receive in a medical crisis that might be the result of a serious illness or an unexpected accident.  Advance care planning also involves deciding who will speak for you if you are not able to speak for yourself.

An essential part of advance care planning involves having these important conversations with your loved ones.

Advance care planning also includes:

  • Deciding what types of treatment you would or would not want should you be diagnosed with a life-limiting illness or faced with a serious medical crisis.
  • Sharing your personal values and beliefs with your loved ones.
  • Completing an advance directive to put into writing what types of treatment you would or would not want.
  • Designating a person as your health care power of attorney (sometimes called a health care proxy) to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself.

“Not only is it important for each of us to clearly make our wishes known but it is one of the most important gifts we can give to our families and loved ones,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “During the holiday season, families are often gathered together and that’s the best time to have these caring conversations with one another.”

Added Schumacher, “Hospice and palliative care providers see how difficult it can be for families that have never talked about care choices and are in a crisis situation. Similarly, they see how beneficial it can be when the priorities at life’s end have been discussed and are clearly understood.”

NHPCO’s offers free state-specific advance directive forms and free information to help families talk about the care they would want. Visit


New CMS Memo on Hospice and Part D

Originally posted on

On November 15, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a new communication and analysis on the interface of Part D and hospice.

The new memorandum on Part D and the interface with hospice is based on the Office of Inspector General report where hospices inappropriately billed for GIP care (published in March 2016).  The report also identified instances where drugs were paid for by Part D, when in many cases they should have been covered under the Part A.On the positive side, CMS reported that there was a 75 percent drop in medications paid by Part D after the hospice election for drugs in the four classes:  – analgesics, anti-nausea, laxatives, and anti-anxiety drugs.  However, the memo outlines concerns for the notification of eligibility process, where hospices are not responsive to Part D sponsors in their requests for recoupment, and there is a lag in information on hospice enrollment to the Part D sponsor.

Read the CMS memorandum.

NHPCO members will find a Regulatory Alert that examines some of the specific points in the new document from CMS.


Firefighter Escorted to Hospice by Honor Convoy

Firefighter and 45-year old father of two Frank Martinez recently decided to begin hospice care after years of unsuccessful cancer treatment. A six-year veteran of the Atlanta Fire Department Squad 4, Martinez was escorted from the treatment center to his home by an Honor Convoy of his fellow firefighters. Several neighboring departments radioed in to the convoy to express their support for their comrade.

“We’re going to miss him,” said Mike Brooks, a friend of Frank’s for over 10 years.  “But we’re here to celebrate his life and to give him the send-off he deserves. He’s a fireman’s fireman; the best you’re going to ever meet.”

See the original article here. 

Several fire stations throughout Atlanta and DeKalb County radioed in to give tributes to Martinez as he passed through the downtown area about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. JOHN SPINK

Providing Hospice Care in Rural America: A View from Wyoming

In Honor of National Rural Health Day, I am happy to present some thoughts from Marilyn Connor, Executive Director of Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions Program, and one of our Hospice Advocates, about the challenges they face in providing quality hospice care in rural America:

Growing up in urban Chicago, I was raised with the misconception that rural healthcare was substandard. In my mind, rural healthcare lacked the sophistication and quality us “urbanites” were privy to.

Having spent the past 13 years as a hospice administrator in Wyoming, I am now a very vocal advocate for the quality of rural healthcare. As a rural hospice provider, we do have unique challenges; but most of those challenges make our program stronger.

Our state can boast we have more cattle than people. This means it may take us a year to find a qualified certified social worker. It also means we are very self-reliant and can work autonomously. It makes us work harder to ensure we are educated and up to date on all issues impacting hospice and palliative care. Our staff is strongly encouraged to spend time on the NHPCO website and become a part of My NHPCO so that we can stay abreast of changes.

We have a serious physician shortage, which, coupled with a limited census, prevents us from having a captured Medical Director. On the flip side, we know every doctor in our service area on a first name basis and they know and trust our staff. We are considered a major player in the community’s continuum of care.

We have a limited pool of nurses to choose from.  As a result of the limited number of nurses, it is no secret as to who Is a choice employer. And it is no secret that while we have very high expectations of our staff, we get so much in return from our patients.

Distance is an enormous challenge, especially in the midst of a typical winter snow. We often times spend more windshield time for a patient than we do bedside time. We are trying to narrow this gap with the use of technology.

We have limited staffing and medical resources but we have an abundance of community support, web and phone based support and an incredibly strong team.  Our QAPI program will demonstrate our care is second to none and our compassion is impressive. We have all of the quality our urban colleagues have, wrapped in a hug from our rural community.  

A small herd of deer that frequent the side door of our building. Living in rural areas means you get up close and personal with wildlife.
A small herd of deer that frequent the side door of our building. Living in rural areas means you get up close and personal with wildlife

Please ask Congress to support the Rural Access to Hospice Act to help ensure quality end-of-life care is available to all Americans! Click Here to Take Action!