Hospice Oversight May Come From Rare Bipartisan Health Bill
Bipartisan Congressional legislation designed to bring more frequent surveys to hospice providers in hopes of increasing quality, transparency, and accountability has emerged in the U.S. House of Representatives with the backing of the industry and both political parties. The legislation, led by U.S. Reps. Tom Reed, a New York Republican, and Mike Thompson, a California Democrat, comes following criticism in government watchdog reports. Last year, for example, a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General found that frequency of surveys of hospice were inconsistent and it was common that facilities would go years without an evaluation. A Washington Post series running this month called the “Business of Dying” has also outlined problems. Many of those with infrequent surveys were cited for quality and other violations of inadequate care. In 12 states, the OIG said, “more than 25 percent of hospices had not been recertified within the previous six years.” But the new proposed legislation, known as the Hospice Act, would create a three-year recertification cycle compared to the current six to eight-year cycles, according to Reed’s office said. Supporters of the legislation say it would weed out bad apples from the industry and shine more light on all hospice providers. The industry sees the survey process itself as important so providers would have a better idea how to make improvements and know what is expected.