Since the passage of the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), hospice operators in Texas and nationwide have seen their federal funding erode. One problem in particular that lobbyists for the hospice industry hope to correct is the lack of funding for the survey process. They argue that hospice surveys play an important role in maintaining the quality of hospice services.
Hospice survey backlog
In the fight against funding cuts, advocates for hospice care highlight the need for the federal government to make hospice surveys a priority. As things stand, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have not surveyed close to 40% of hospice facilities in the past three years. Many surveyors continue to await training on updated practices for evaluating facilities due to insufficient funding.
Without surveys to identify problems, operators have a reduced ability to maintain or improve quality. They sometimes have to make decisions about where to allocate resources without clear guidance on what problems threaten their compliance with regulations.
New CMS regulations
Funding troubles continue to undermine facilities’ ability to comply with hospice regulations regarding the Special Focus Program. CMS has finalized the rules for this program that is meant to help facilities with poor track records improve their care. Advocates for hospice providers continue to ask for funding to pay for training needed to meet program requirements successfully.
Reason for funding cuts
Over the years, Congress has reallocated funding originally spent on hospice care to other areas of need in the health care system. Money once spent on hospice services has increasingly been rerouted to pharmacies and mental health care. Reallocations like this, that once totaled about $50 million per, year have now risen to nearly $1 billion annually.