CMS Testing Concurrent Coverage of Palliative, Curative Care

Instead of making patients suffering from life-limiting illnesses choose between hospice care and curative care, CMS will test coverage that allows individuals to receive palliative and curative treatment concurrently.

Instead of making patients suffering from life-limiting illnesses choose between hospice care and curative care, CMS will test coverage that allows individuals to receive palliative and curative treatment concurrently, according to an announcement from HHS. As it stands now, with Medicare beneficiaries required to choose one service or the other, fewer than half of eligible patients use hospice care, and often only for a short period of time.

Hospices have been selected to participate in the Medicare Care Choices Model, which provides the option for Medicare beneficiares and dually eligible beneficiaries who qualify for coverage under the Medicare and Medicaid hospice benefits to receive supportive care services provided by a hospice while undergoing curative treatment.

“This model empowers clinicians, beneficiaries and their families with choices and is part of our broader efforts to transform our health care system into one that delivers better care, makes smarter payments, and puts patients in the center of their own care,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. “We want to do what we can to help families find the care that is right for their loved one.”

Originally the model was going to only include 30 Medicare-certified hospices, but due to interest the program has been expanded to 140 hospices during the duration of the model from 3 to 5 years. According to HHS, as many as 150,000 eligible beneficiaries with advanced cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, and HIV/AIDS who receive hospice care will be able to elect this new option.