In the United States, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has filed a lawsuit to stop cuts to Medicare reimbursements for hospice care amounting to almost $2.2 billion.
Compared to hospital-based health care, hospice actually saves money. A 2007 Duke University study found that (in the US) hospice saves Medicare an average of $2,300 per patient, amounting to a total savings of about $2 billion a year.
Considered to be the model for high-quality care for terminally ill patients, hospice focuses on caring, not curing, and, in most cases, is provided in the patient’s home or non-profit hospital settings such as Victoria Hospice. Hospice professionals are experts in providing pain and symptom management, information and education, as well as psycho-social and spiritual support to the dying and their families.
A note to Canadians: Washington frequently sets the pace for our own government which, in the past, has shown no fear in cutting funds for health, education, and the arts. Having raised them at various occasions, I find that old age and dying are un-cool discussion topics in a death-denying and youth-centred society.
Since we’ll all die sooner or later, we may want to start asking candidates in the current federal and provincial elections about their stance on the matter. Our parents, friends, loved-ones, and ourselves … all stand to benefit from well-funded palliative and hospice care.