June 07, 2005

Medicare Proposes Rule to Improve Hospice

A proposed rule change by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) is expected to ease regulations on Hospice providers, allowing for increased levels of care and an increase in the approximately 700,000 current Hospice beneficiaries.

CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. believes that this proposal will help move CMS closer to their "overall goal of high quality for all Medicare beneficiaries."

The proposed rule will have the following changes:

- adding patient assessment procedures that allow for more timely identification of patient needs;
- amending the quality assurance requirement to be more comprehensive and more accurately tailor the care to the patient;
- allows Hospice to contract for some services (such as highly specialized and infrequently needed nursing services);
- replaces requirement of having an RN to provide 24-hour service with an outcome-oriented requirement that focuses on the results of care provided to patients and families;
- provides guidance for hospices that provide care for nursing home facilities.

The proposed rule would adopt contemporary standards of care and would take recommendations from the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Regulatory Reform, the OIG, the Office of Disability, Aging and Long-term Care Policy and the public.

To view the proposed rules click here.