KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Questions Arise About Hospice Companies As Discharge Rates Increase

When so many patients leave a hospice alive, it could signal problems such as inadequate care or companies seeking financial gains by enrolling people who should not have been considered hospice patients, The Washington Post reports.

The Washington Post: Rising Rates Of Hospice Discharge In U.S. Raise Questions About Quality Of Care
At hundreds of U.S. hospices, more than one in three patients are dropping the service before dying, new research shows, a sign of trouble in an industry supposed to care for patients until death. When that many patients are leaving a hospice alive, experts said, the agencies are likely to be either driving them away with inadequate care or enrolling patients who aren't really dying in order to pad their profits (Whoriskey and Keating, 8/6).

In news about Medicare's efforts to buttress quality measures at hospitals --

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: First Look At Medicare Quality Incentive Program Finds Little Benefit
One of Medicare’s attempts to improve medical quality -- by rewarding or penalizing hospitals -- did not lead to improvements in the first nine months of the program, a study has found. The quality program, known as Hospital Value-Based Purchasing, is a pillar of the federal health law’s campaign to use the government’s financial muscle to improve patient care. Since late 2012, Medicare has been giving small increases or decreases in payments to nearly 3,000 hospitals based on how patients rated their experiences and how faithfully hospitals followed a dozen basic standards of care, such as taking blood cultures of pneumonia patients before administering antibiotics (Rau, 8/6).

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