Patients face new regulations
New Medicare regulations regarding hospice care now require that patients who have been through two full rounds of hospice to meet in person with a hospice doctor or nurse practitioner to determine whether they are actually in need of end-of-life care. This presents a difficult issue, because there is no specific way to determine how far someone is from death. A quote, from NewsObserver.com:
In about half of cases, patients consult the service three weeks before they die and a third become patients just one week before death.
Cooper Linton, vice president of marketing and business development with Hospice of Wake County, said it’s unusual for patients to be in hospice care for extended periods, but it’s not unheard of.
“We’re trying to estimate the life expectancy of people, and that’s more an art than it is a science,” Linton said. “In our own personal lives, we know of people who did not live as long as we thought they would, and those who live far longer than they were told they would.”
It remains to be seen whether this change will be beneficial or detrimental, but with concerns already being raised by providers about possible cost increases, the debate is certainly not over.