Despite a three-year-old order from Congress, Medicare has yet to begin an experiment to expand hospice services to allow beneficiaries to continue potentially lifesaving treatments to see if it would save money while improving the patients' quality of life.
Healthcare in the U.S. has been in a state of transition since 2010. Unfortunately, many of the most important aspects of healthcare reform, those promising to protect the elderly and those in end-of-life care, have yet to take effect.
As reported quite recently through the Kaiser Health News, hospice care has yet to be expanded under the Medicare project set out three years ago.
The article titled “Medicare Lags In Project to Expand Hospice” examines the very real conflict between “curative” treatment and “palliative” treatment. The former is meant to cure a condition and thereby prolong life, and the latter is meant to ease the pain caused by a condition without a focus on effecting a cure.
Naturally, the curative and palliative treatments are often considered opposites. In fact, choosing palliative care would mean giving up all hope on curative care. Consequently, it is only natural that rapidly declining patients delay their entry into palliative hospice care.
The 2010 law was to begin inroads into exploring combined care, the possibility of both curative and palliative concurrently. Logically, this should ease transitions without forsaking hopes, likely reducing costs in the process. To date, however, this has not happened.
Reference: Kaiser Health News (May 9, 2013) “Medicare Lags In Project to Expand Hospice”