The prospect of a palliative care demonstration model got a big boost this week from members of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Ten committee members penned a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure on Wednesday calling for either a new community based palliative care demonstration model or building on the Medicare Care Choices Model, which allows dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to receive supportive care services typically provided by hospice while still receiving curative services.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization President and CEO Edo Banach, who has been lobbying for a demonstration model for years, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily in an email that he is encouraged by the committee’s support.
“The hospice and palliative care community is united around the need for a demonstration project to prove the efficacy of a Community-Based Palliative Care Benefit,” Banach said. “Through continued advocacy we are also seeing Members of Congress coalesce around the need for CBPC — to make access to care more equitable, reduce costs, deliver better care and improve patient quality of life.”
Banach has said in recent months he believed a community palliative care benefit would come this year.
The lawmakers said combining curative treatment along with palliative care will help meet the needs of patients who prefer not to have traditional hospice and forego care.
“Providing care at home allows some of our most vulnerable populations to remain safe from communicable disease, comfortable, and surrounded by loved ones; it can also alleviate the burden on our nation’s hospitals and other inpatient settings,” the members wrote in the letter.
Palliative care provides medical and spiritual care to people suffering from serious, complex illnesses. Hospice provides care to terminally ill patients who typically have less than six months to live. Some private insurance companies and Medicare Advantage plans cover community-based palliative care services, but Medicare currently does not.
Analysis recently conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago in partnership with NHPCO found CBPC could improve the quality of life for seriously ill patients and reduce overall healthcare spending by covering more conditions and beneficiaries.