Washington Post Publishes its Fifth Article in a Series on Hospice
Article includes a consumer’s guide that includes data on profit status, most recent survey, patient count, average cost per patient day, accreditation status, and whether the hospice offers “crisis care”
October 28, 2014 01:44 PM
The Washington Post recently published the fifth article in its series on hospice care. The article, “Quality of U.S. hospices varies, patients left in dark,” focuses on the dearth of quality data that is available. While the article presents an overall negative view of hospice, it also provides a positive example. Additionally, the article provides a consumer’s guide that includes data on profit status, most recent survey, patient count, average cost per patient day, accreditation status, and whether the hospice offers “crisis care.”
“While the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) believes that guidance to consumers about hospice care is very much needed, we have serious concerns that the information provided as part of the Post’s Consumers Guide is misleading. For example, the guide includes data on when the hospice was most recently surveyed as well as whether the hospice is accredited. Until this month there was no legislative mandate regarding frequency of hospice surveys, so many hospices have not had a recent survey,” said Theresa Forster, Vice President for Hospice Policy and Programs at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. “NAHC has worked for many years to require that hospices are surveyed by state survey agencies with greater frequency, and was active in efforts to include a legislative mandate that hospices be surveyed, at a minimum, every 36 months, in the recently-enacted IMPACT Act (Public Law 113-185). However, the guide fails to indicate that hospices accredited by accrediting bodies are surveyed every three years. This failing paints an inaccurate picture of an accredited hospice’s commitment to delivery of high quality care and the ongoing oversight accredited hospices are subject to in order to ensure that they meet the hospice Conditions of Participation. “
According to the article:
“The absence of public information about [a hospice’s] quality, a void that is unusual even within the health-care industry, leaves consumers at a loss to distinguish the good from the bad.
Though the federal government publishes consumer data about the quality of other health-care companies, including hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies, it provides no such information about hospices.
After years of public pressure, Congress in 2010 required that the government publish information about hospice quality, but the Medicare agency said in May that such consumer information would not be forthcoming until 2017 — at the earliest.
Similarly, state records of hospice inspections are often unpublished, sparse, and, when they are available, difficult to find and understand. Government inspections of hospices have typically been scheduled about every six years, though Congress in September called for more frequent checks.”
The consumer’s guide included in the article indicates that a hospice does or does not provide crisis care, presumably based on whether or not claims data indicates that the hospice has provided Continuous Home Care (CHC) to any of its patients during a recent time period. The guide fails to clarify that the standard for CHC is very rigorous, so a hospice may provide intensive care in the home but not fully meet the standard for CHC and therefore bills care provided under the Routine Home Care level of care.
“Additional concerns relate to the data used for per patient day spending, which may be misleading as it does not address weighting based on variable wage indices depending on the location of service,” continued Ms. Forster. “NAHC is developing a list of concerns that it will submit to the Washington Post and the authors of the article.”
If the information related to a particular hospice is incorrect or misleading, the Washington Post has included a section where comments (scroll down to “Contact Us” section) may be submitted. NAHC encourages its members to provide accurate information related to the data contained in the guide to ensure that hospices are accurately represented.
To read the full article, please click here.