Target: Amy P. Abernethy, President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Goal: Stop the practice of hospices using legal loopholes to exploit patients and their families for profit
Hospice care is usually the last stop for people. To qualify, a patient needs two doctors to separately confirm that they have less than six months to live. Hospices help patients come to terms with death, at least that’s what they should do. Unfortunately, some legal loopholes in Medicare laws have allowed hospices to exploit their patients for profit.
Although hospices are designed to be end-of-life care facilities, some hospices are beginning to realize that it is actually more financially beneficial if they start taking in patients who will live beyond six months. The reason is simple: hospices are paid $150 a day per patient by Medicare.
This pay rate is the same regardless of how much medical help a patient requires each day. Thus, the law has created a financial incentive for hospice facilities to recruit patients who do not require as much health care on a daily basis. These patients will not only generate more money in the long-run by staying alive beyond six months, but they will also generate a greater profit, since most days that $150 will be pocketed by the facility instead of going to pay for specialized help.
This kind of financial abuse of a system designed to help those who need it most is unacceptable. Families of patients in hospice care facilities are obviously not going to complain about their family members living beyond the predicated six months. But by assigning them to hospice care facilities when they do not need them, these doctors and facilities are committing fraud and taxing the emotional and mental health of both the patients and their families, who expect their loved ones to pass on within six months.
Sign the petition below to call for an end to this situation.
Dear Amy P. Abernethy,
As you are well aware, hospices play an important role in the community. One of their primary benefits is to help provide medical assistance to patients with terminal illnesses or who are otherwise predicted to pass within six months. That deadline is there for several reasons. It is hard for families to care for their loved ones sometimes, especially if their condition requires specialized care. It also helps patients and families make a healthy emotional transition to the idea of their loved ones passing away. That is why the current financial fraud occurring in some hospice care facilities is unacceptable.
It turns out that certain legal loopholes allow hospices to take on patients who are much healthier than the average hospice patient. Instead of dying within six months, some of these patients live for years. As long as these patients continue to be enrolled in hospice care, the hospice they are enrolled at receives $150 per day–even if their patients do not require any additional medical assistance.
This kind of fraud is absolutely unacceptable, because it emotionally targets families and patients who rely on hospice care to help them through one of the hardest transitions in life: the end. An immediate investigation needs to be made to ensure that no patients in the hospice care system are being taken advantage of, and if they are, immediate remuneration needs to occur.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: emilio labrador via Flickr