The draft contains provisions the organization said it could support

WASHINGTON—On June 13, 2024, Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon released a discussion draft of legislation, the Hospice Care Accountability, Reform, and Enforcement (Hospice CARE) Act, that would make significant changes to the Medicare hospice program. 

The National Association for Homecare and Hospice (NAHC) responded, saying the draft contains some provisions that it believes the hospice community could support, given their potential to help shore up oversight gaps to address lingering program integrity concerns, and introduce novel and innovative payment mechanisms that could facilitate easier access to hospice care for certain kinds of patients and their families. Examples, it said, include increasing survey frequency for new hospices, creating coverage for in-home respite services and requiring medical review contractors to have specialized knowledge and training in hospice.

The draft bill would also make some significant changes to medical review processes and the payment mechanisms in hospice.

“NAHC has been proud to work closely with Congressman Blumenauer and other bipartisan members of Congress over the last few years on hospice program integrity issues,” said NAHC President William A Dombi. “We’ve been good-faith partners and advocates for commonsense, targeted reforms that will make it harder for bad actors to infiltrate the Medicare hospice program and exploit vulnerable individuals and caregivers. While we appreciate that this draft legislation can help support broader conversations about how best to improve the hospice program for all Americans, we want to make sure the proposed policies don’t unduly burden hospices following the rules and delivering quality care, and jeopardize timely access to care for the sickest among us. We will work with our members and partners to gather detailed feedback on the draft, and look forward to providing input to help inform legislation that recognizes the value hospice brings to patients, communities and taxpayers.”