New changes to Medicare and Medicaid payment could address the emotionally wrenching dilemma faced by physicians and terminally ill patients forced to choose between continuing curative treatments and taking advantage of hospice care programs’ in-home palliative, psychological and spiritual services.
The health reform law enacted in March directs state Children’s Health Insurance Programs and Medicaid plans to immediately cover “concurrent care” — a combination of curative efforts and hospice care — for children with terminal illnesses. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the expanded coverage will cost $200 million over 10 years.
The law also calls on the Health and Human Services secretary to conduct a three-year, budget-neutral demonstration project of concurrent care for Medicare patients at 15 hospice-care sites.
The whole shebang.