USA Today reported last week that Medicare is considering changes to hospice care policy to prevent overpayments. More specifically, the changes would prevent Medicare from paying twice for care provided by both hospice and non-hospice providers.
From USA Today:
Medicare pays a set amount to the hospice provider for all treatment and services related to the terminal illness, including doctor's visits, nursing home stays, hospitalization, medical equipment and drugs. If a patient needs treatment that hospice doesn't provide because it is not related to the terminal illness -- or the patient seeks care outside of hospice -- Medicare pays the non-hospice providers. The problem is that sometimes Medicare pays for care outside the hospice benefit that it already paid hospice to cover.
To reduce the chances of these duplicative payments, Medicare officials have announced that they are examining whether to assume "virtually all" the care hospice patients receive should be covered under the hospice benefit.