Federal regulators give themselves more time to revise hospice participation rules

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says the "complexity" of changes needed to a hospice-participation rule, and the number of public comments received on it, have forced a further one-year postponement up publication of a final rule.

The new rule was supposed to be published yesterday. Instead, a postponement notice ran, implying a rare exception to a three-year limit for publishing final rules would be invoked. CMS originally published the proposed rule May 27, 2005. The agency says it needs more time to review "detailed policy and legal issues."

The new rule will update policies up to 25 years old and will deal with everything from patient assessment and care planning to performance improvement and "the role of hospice care in long-term care facilities, CMS officials said.