For-profit hospices served a greater proportion of lower-cost patients with dementia and other non-cancer diagnoses than did not-for-profit hospices, according to a new study to be published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For-profit hospices serve more lower-cost patients: study
The study found that 65.9% of for-profit hospice patients had dementia or other non-cancer diagnoses compared with 51.6% of patients at not-for-profit hospices, according to the article. Those types of patients are associated with lower-skilled needs and for that reason are more profitable than cancer patients, according to the JAMA article. The authors also found that the median length of stay among for-profit hospices was significantly greater—20 days vs. 16 among not-for-profit hospices.
The results have implications for policymakers, the authors say. If not-for-profit providers are disproportionately caring for the most costly patients, the current per diem reimbursement system may create financial obstacles for those providers. The authors note that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommended that reimbursement rates be adjusted to reflect intensity of hospice care. The authors used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey.
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