A possible palliative care demonstration care model recently got substantial support from the House Ways and Mean Committee. Ten members of the committee wrote a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service Administrator requesting either a new community-based palliative care demonstration model or building on the Medicare Care Choices Model, which permits beneficiaries who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid to receive supportive care services that are often utilized hospice in the midst of receiving curative services.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization President who had been fighting to secure a demonstration model for years expressed encouragement from the committee’s support.
The President also commented that through continued advocacy, the organization is starting to see Members of Congress coalesce around the need for a community-based palliative care model to make care access fairer, lower prices, deliver better services, and improve life quality for patients.
How Lawmakers View Palliative Care
Lawmakers have stated that mixing curative treatment with palliative care helps address the situation of patients who have elected not to have traditional hospice care. Palliative care offers medical and spiritual care to people afflicted with complex illnesses. Hospice provides care to terminally ill individuals who often have under six months to live. Some private insurance companies and Medicare Advantage plans cover community-based palliative care services. Medicare, however, does not pay for these services.
Community-based palliative care begins by assuming that people are at their best when they live together in a community. Palliative care relies on treatment from a variety of medical professionals including physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals who can provide relief through medications and procedures. Palliative care does not distinguish between inpatient and outpatient care. Instead, community-based palliative care can be ongoing for months and does not have to be mutually connected with end-of-life or hospice care.
How Community-Based Palliative Care Works
Community-based palliative care refers to a non-hospital-based care plan provided throughout facilities and in private homes. Patients then remain connected with the community in which they live.
Patients are routinely referred for community-based palliative care through physicians who note the pain that might be connected with specific conditions. Nursing and other assisted or skilled care facilities routinely have relationships with community-based palliative care, which can involve referrals.
After a patient is identified for referral, a palliative care team member comes into contact with a patient or representative to offer general care services and to document the patient’s condition. A palliative care provider then connects with the patient’s medical team to make sure that the care plan is coherent and helpful. Lastly, the care plan is created and modified as needed for a patient’s comfort.
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