June 11, 2018
By Kathie Ritchie
Under Medicare’s current rules, a person who goes on hospice has to stop any curative care they might be receiving, like dialysis or chemotherapy. But now, a nationwide pilot program is looking to see if the old way of doing things really works.
It’s called the Medicare Care Choices Model. The idea is to allow a select group of seriously ill people to receive hospice services without giving up their regular care.
Barbara Volk-Craft is with Hospice of the Valley (HOV), the only hospice provider in the state that’s participating in the program.
"The idea came from Medicare form the innovation center and found that there was a group of Medicare beneficiaries who although they were eligible for hospice weren’t seeking hospice care at the end of their life, they were ending up going to the hospital and dying in the hospital," said Volk-Craft. "What we call the terminal hospitalization or that terminal hospital event."
Dr. Ed Clarke, with the Arizona Care Network, is collaborating with HOV on the pilot.
"A high percentage dollars of health care are spent in the last and final weeks of life," said Clarke.
And that’s due, in large part, to hospitalizations.
Besides improving a person’s quality of care at the end of life, both Clarke and Volk-Craft said there’s a chance it will save Medicare money. And that’s significant. Last week, a government report warned that Medicare will become insolvent by 2026.