Thursday, July 23, 2015

Medicare testing a hospice combined with treatment program

Many people and families want hospice care for patients in the end stages of life--but at present, getting hospice means you are given six months or less to live and agree to stop curative treatments in favor of comfort (palliative) measures.

Over the next four years, Medicare will allow some 150,000 patients to receive hospice but still see doctors and get medical treatments.

Research shows better quality of life and maybe a longer lifespan from combining the two approaches.

Many doctors would prefer this--but were constrained from treatments because Medicare would not pay.

"It's hard to say you don't want more chemo," one doctor added.

So many hospices wanted to be in this trial, they randomly selected half to start in 2016, the other half in 2017.

They will compare these against hospices that did not apply.

Some people worry that unscrupulous hospices may sign up patients that don't need hospice and have nothing to lose because they can still get traditional care.

Well, boo to them! I say it's worth a try. I don't get into it, but our experience with hospice in my mother's case was less than positive. I do know others who swear by it, though.

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