Hospice payment system requires reform, staff tells MedPAC

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Medicare hospice payment reform will be necessary to combat the rising cost of hospice, staff members suggested recently to the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC).

More beneficiaries are staying in hospice care for longer periods of time, leading to increased Medicare outlays. Longer lengths of stay for beneficiaries mean higher profitability for the hospices they are staying at, the presenters told MedPAC commissioners, according to the Bureau of National Affairs.

Payments to hospices should decrease for longer stays, rather than increase, MedPAC staff said. A payment adjustment could be made after the patient's death to reflect any higher costs incurred. They also recommended that all hospice stays longer than 180 days include a written explanation for the length of stay from a physician.