The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is blasting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for continuing a two-year Medicare Advantage hospice carve-in demonstration that NHPCO considers flawed.

NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach said CMS’ Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model comes up short because it has not defined a required set of core services for comprehensive palliative care that MA plans can offer concurrently with hospice care.

Headshot of Edo Banach
Edo Banach

“Nearly a year into the demonstration, CMS has not shared data or explained how this demonstration improves access to hospice care,” Banach said in a statement. 

CMS announced in January 2019 that MA plans would be able to offer hospice services starting this year under a demonstration project. NHPCO initially supported the project, but in late 2019 it called on CMS to delay the launch of VBID because it believed the model as designed lacked sufficient beneficiary protections. CMS went ahead with the launch anyway.

“We see no evidence to support a second implementation year,” Banach said. “Furthermore, providers and consumer advocates are disheartened by CMS’s decision to continue with this experiment while many states are experiencing their highest COVID-19 positivity rates, hospitalizations and worst workforce shortages since the beginning of the pandemic. Especially in the face of a public health emergency, we ask CMS to honor its commitment to partner closely with the hospice provider community and consumer groups in their mission to advance health equity, expand coverage and improve outcomes.”