For 14 days, an 89-year-old with respiratory problems went without proper control of his symptoms. The patient experienced respiratory distress and anxiety. Another patient with dementia spent more than two weeks with uncontrolled pain. The patient's pain medication wasn't updated until day 16. It took a week for a special bed for this patient to be provided.
These distressing patient stories share two similarities: Both were Medicare recipients and both were in hospice care. Unfortunately, these are just a few of the stories of poor care and outright fraud suffered by Medicare recipients facing the end of life and requiring no more than death with dignity.
The number of hospices in the U.S. increased by 43 percent between 2006 and 2016, but so has the Medicare fraud, and it's affecting millions of people. The majority are for-profit hospices, which typically house patients 26 days longer than nonprofit hospices, and make $4,000 more because of the difference, according to a report released this week from the Inspector General's office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The amount of Medicare beneficiaries receiving hospice care increased by about 53 percent between 2006 and 2016, with 1.4 million Medicare beneficiaries receiving hospice care in 2016.Spending increased by 81 percent within the same time frame — 2016 medicare spending for hospice care was $16.7 billion.