Medicare Lags In Project to Expand Hospice

Despite a three-year-old order from Congress, Medicare has yet to begin an experiment to expand hospice services to allow beneficiaries to continue potentially lifesaving treatments to see if it would save money while improving the patients' quality of life.

The demonstration project would eliminate one major reason that people are reluctant to take up Medicare's hospice benefit: they have to first agree to forgo curative treatments such as chemotherapy.

Many rapidly declining patients delay entry into hospice until their final days as they exhaust their treatment options, according to studies.

Others end up dying in hospital intensive care units, which are expensive and generally not geared to making the terminally ill as comfortable as possible

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Source: Kaiser Health News