ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization today urged the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to adjust the community's 2010 projected profit margins from 4.6 to 2.6 percent in order to more accurately reflect hospice's unique, mandatory program costs of volunteer and bereavement services.
The Medicare (and Medicaid) hospice benefit includes all care related to the terminal illness, as well as requires programs to provide up to 13 months of bereavement services to the families and loved ones of the beneficiary after he or she dies. In addition, the Medicare hospice benefit requires that trained volunteers provide at least 5 percent of the patient care hours. These services are mandatory as detailed in the hospice conditions of participation, and this is unique to the hospice benefit.
"While other providers also may establish volunteer programs, and perhaps the cost of those programs are considered non-reimbursable costs on the Medicare cost report, we know of no other provider that is federally required to establish and maintain a volunteer program and to track and document the cost savings achieved," said NHPCO Vice President of Public Policy Jonathon Keyserling. "The costs of both volunteer and bereavement services must be included in the margin computation. Any other approach would ignore the financial reality of hospice programs bearing these mandatory costs."