Hospice care is meant to provide comfort by reducing suffering and focusing on the quality of life for the patient and the family. And yet a lack of regulation, oversight, and available information means that isn’t always the case.
The HSS Inspector General has found that, between 2012 and 2016, health inspectors cited 87% of hospices for deficiencies. In 20% of hospices, these deficiencies were serious – serious enough to endanger patients. For-profit hospice agencies are more likely than to have non-profits, likely because decreasing staff increases profit margins.
There aren’t many options for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to discipline hospices. They can drop hospices from the Medicare program, but they can’t assess fines or install temporary management. Many complaints can’t be substantiated, and even when they are, that information doesn’t become readily available to consumers. CMS could put citations for deficiencies and complaints on their website for consumers, Hospice Compare, but they don’t.
The CMS Inspector General has recommended that legislators strengthen hospice standards, increase inspections, streamline the complaint and investigation process, and improve accountability and availability of information. Whether we will see improvements in the near future remains to be seen.
Choosing long-term care for a loved one can be challenging. We help families find good long-term care and work with them on how to pay for the care. If you would like to talk about your needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Please contact our Spokane office today or schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters. We would be happy to help you and welcome your call.
No Legal Advice Intended. This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues or problems.
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