The recent Washington Post article regarding the apparent fraudulent Medicare claims of a few hospices was very misleading in extrapolating the actions of a few and attributing them to the services of thousands of hospices across the country [“‘Hospice survivors’ a costly trend for Medicare,” Nation & World, Dec. 28].
None of those issues have occurred in Washington state, due in large part to the state’s health policy of Certificate of Need.
An examination of the Washington state Medicare data for the past number of years would have demonstrated that we have been consistently below the national average in utilization. We have consistently been below the average length of stay for over a decade by more than 10 days per beneficiary. Our total cost per patient for hospice services is over $1,700 less per beneficiary than the national average.
Washington state has consistently been a leader in hospice and end-of-life care. Since its inception, hospice care has demonstrated a cost-effective and patient-focused model of end-of-life care.
The fear mongering generated by the recent coverage casting all hospices in a negative light only serves to prevent appropriate services to many Washington residents.
Anne E. Koepsell, executive director, Washington State Hospice & Palliative Care