Among its many attributes, Baltimore is one of the nation’s leaders in medicine. This reputation for high-quality health care extends to Baltimore’s hospice care providers as well. However, as detailed by a recent series of Washington Post articles, that experience is not universal.
This article highlights significant issues and a wide disparity in the level of care in the hospice industry.
This is a seemingly sure sign of dissatisfaction with the care and treatment provided.
Medicare statistics further demonstrate that nearly 20 percent of hospices do not provide continuous nursing care or inpatient care for patients in crisis. A similar percentage represents the fact that hospices regularly fail to have a registered nurse visit within the final 48 hours of a patient’s life.
A central reason for the wide variation in care levels appears to be economic. Medicare, the largest source of industry revenue, pays $155 per day for hospice services. The more of that amount spent on patient care, the lower the profits for the hospice facility.
The federal government publishes consumer information regarding hospitals, nursing facilities and home health care agencies, but not hospice care providers. In 2010, Congress required that the government publish hospice quality data in an effort to rectify the lack of information. However, Medicare does not expect that information to be available until 2017.
When it is made available, the information can be difficult to find and even more difficult to comprehend. Further compounding the difficulties created by lack of funding, government inspections of hospice facilities typically take place once every six years.
Mr. Abraham is an experienced attorney and founding member of the Law Firm of Abraham & Bauer. The Towson, MD office of the firm concentrates its practice in Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate, Medical Assistance (Medicaid), Guardianship, Asset Preservation and Fiduciary Representation.
He is an active member in a number of professional organizations that focus on law, the senior community, and estate planning. He works with clients in Central Maryland, especially in Towson, Hunt Valley, Lutherville/Timonium, Parkville, White Marsh, Bel Air & Northern Baltimore City.
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