In an Aiken Standard blog post today, Dr. David Powell, the CEO of Hospice Care of South Carolina, makes the bold claim that increasing funding for hospice will ultimately decrease long-term Medicare debt. Congress is currently proposing a cut in hospice funding.
As the CEO of Hospice Care of South Carolina, I am getting more and more questions regarding where I think hospice and end-of-life care is headed with all the recent talk of funding cuts. While sensible reform is definitely needed, I believe that increasing, not decreasing hospice funding and admissions could help save the Medicare system.
Studies show that by 2016, Medicare could be bankrupt. Some have proposed raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. Others have alternative suggestions such as raising Medicare premiums for higher-income patients, increasing other taxes and premiums or a complete redesign of Medicare’s co-pays and deductibles.
While imposing a co-payment could reduce Medicare costs, it does not consider the many Medicare patients who would have difficulty affording new co-payments for end-of-life care in a hospice care program. These individuals would ultimately be forced to be treated for acute problems at a hospital that are frightfully more expensive for the patient and Medicare as a whole.