Say it ain’t so. A great many of us have found hospice services to be lifesavers — or perhaps I should say deathsavers — when loved ones were dying. But this week, On Point aired a particularly eye-opening segment about the financially questionable side of for-profit hospice care — yet another area where American health care may go awry in pursuit of lucre. Listen to the hour here, and here is On Point producer Stefano Kotsonis’ write-up the segment:
By Stefano Kotsonis
On Point producer
The for-profit hospice care is a growth industry in this country. But taxpayer beware. (And it is the taxpayer who is footing the bill, big-time.)
Investigations published in JAMA Internal Medicine (Journal of the American Medical Association), JMLE (Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics), the Washington Post, Huffington Post, MEDPAC (which advices Congress on Medicare issues) and others do not paint a pretty picture.
Huffington Post investigative reporter Ben Hallman’s report is just out. It had an especially eye-catching headline: “Hospice, Inc: How Dying Became A Multibillion-Dollar Industry.”
On Point with Tom Ashbrook invited him on to talk about it this Wednesday, June 25.
Too many of these for-profit hospices are gaming U.S. law and cherry-picking patients, finding ways to reap big profits from the Medicare system, taking people who will take longer to die –- and sending them home if they take too long to die, so they can maximize profits. And some of them –- including big, national corporations — have been sued repeatedly by the federal government for their practices. Patient for patient, the for-profits cost the US Treasury a lot more money.
Our guests took pains to make clear that not all for-profits are bad and not all nonprofits are good. Continue reading