I posted here about a story on a local news channel about the Medicare Hospice Cap issue. In that post I said that something about having an actual hospice family interviewed made me a bit uneasy, but I “couldn’t put my finger” on why. I’ve put my finger on it now.
A comment left on that post said:
I think using a real hospice patient makes this important story easier to understand and relate to at a personal level.
That’s when my brain clicked on what was bothering me, the patient, or more specifically his wife, didn’t seem to actually understand the hospice cap. Here’s the offending part of the transcript as best I could transcribe it:
(narrator) – Al is just one example of a hospice patient that has lived longer than [the] time Medicare allows hospice funding.
(Al’s wife) – It makes me angry. What do they expect him to do, just go behind the barn and go die?
There is no limit on the amount of time that Medicare will fund hospice for any individual patient. If you qualify for hospice for twenty years Medicare will pay for your hospice care for twenty years. Medicare puts a cap (thus the Medicare Hospice Cap) on the amount it will pay any given hospice company based on the number of new patients that hospice has admitted in that given year. There is no limit for how long Al can be on hospice. There should never come a day when Al is told that he needs to go out behind the barn and die because he no longer has access to hospice.
It seems to me this the patient/family doesn’t really understand what is going on. I hope it is an editing problem that can be blamed on the television station, but, taken at face value, it seems that the hospice is using, guilting, and upsetting patients to further its own political agenda. If that is true, then we have seen a new low in an industry that used to stand for all that was good and noble in the health care.