For Immediate Release:
January 16, 2020

NHPCO Comments on MedPAC Vote on Hospice

 MedPAC’s recommendations are not structural and are not targeted to improve quality.

(Alexandria, VA) – The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization was present at todays’ public meeting when the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) voted on recommendations that were introduced at the December 2019 public meeting. Commissioners voted unanimously in favor for a 0% increase in payment rates in FY2021 (last year’s recommendation was a 2% cut to FY2020 rates) and to wage adjust and drastically reduce the hospice aggregate cap by 20%.

At the meeting, NHPCO noted that with the recommendations approved today – including increases to hospital payments – MedPAC is relaying a message to Congress, and to all Americans, that they encourage care to be provided in acute care settings while discouraging  person-centered care in less costly settings like in the home or wherever beneficiaries and their families may consider home.

For almost 40 years, hospice has demonstrated value to both the Medicare program, and today, more than half of all Medicare decedents received hospice care.  With more Americans choosing to die at home, we must prioritize payment for home-based care.

NHPCO has previously stated the recommended modifications to the hospice aggregate cap will negatively impact access to care and potentially drive people to more expensive care settings.  We are especially concerned for people living in rural and underserved areas, as we have heard from hospice providers across the nation that these dramatic cuts could result in unintended hospice closures, particularly in low wage index and underserved areas.

“We strongly believe that structural reforms to the hospice benefit, including value-based payments, should be explored in future MedPAC discussion,” said President and CEO Edo Banach. “Today’s recommendations are not structural and are not targeted to improve quality.”

Providers should remember that MedPAC is an advisory body that makes recommendations to Congress. Even with a unanimous vote in favor of the modifications to the hospice aggregate cap, Congress must adopt the necessary legislative changes to put these recommendations into effect.

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NOTE: NHPCO members interested in more details on the MedPAC recommendations that were voted on today, should access the Policy Alert (12/06/19) available online.

Media Contact:
Jon Radulovic
Vice President, Communications
jradulovic@nhpco.org
Ph: 703-837-3139