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Should Medicare update nursing home benefits to incorporate hospice care?
Written by Delphos   
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 2:41 PM

Medicare’s skilled nursing benefits for beneficiaries might need an update to incorporate palliative care services that are most commonly associated with hospice care, a new study suggests.

About 30% of elderly Medicare beneficiaries spend their last days in skilled nursing facilities rather than in hospice care, even if the facilities aren’t properly equipped for end-of-life care, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and it could be due to Medicare’s reimbursement system.

Nursing homes are more likely to offer short-term rehabilitation or long-term care rather than be equipped for palliative care (treating or preventing pain)—generally associated with hospice care. However, some patients who may be better suited for hospice end up in nursing homes because it can be less expensive, the study notes.

Medicare will cover or co-pay the first 100 days of a skilled nursing facility stay for beneficiaries who qualify with a three-day-minimum hospital stay, but it doesn’t cover room and board for hospice benefits, which must be paid out of pocket.

Last Updated on Monday, November 05, 2012 6:57 PM

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