July 20,2015

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Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515 

Wyden Cheers Launch of Medicare Care Choices Demonstration

CMS Pilot Program Gives Patients Flexibility to Receive Hospice Care without Forgoing Curative Treatment

WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today applauded the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for their launch of the Medicare Care Choices Model (MCCM) demonstration, which will enable beneficiaries to continue receiving curative care while enrolling in hospice care at the same time. Wyden authored the provision in the Affordable Care Act that served as the basis for MCCM.

“Care Choices ensures patients and their families come first when it comes to making decisions towards the end of life,” Wyden said.  “Today’s announcement marks a significant turning point in hospice care. Electing to enroll in hospice does not have to be a crossroads for millions of Americans and their families. It’s past time to get smart when it comes to health care at the end of life, and I’m hopeful the success of Care Choices will pave the way for greater access to this kind of care for more Americans.”

Currently, Medicare Hospice Benefit enrollees currently must forgo curative treatment – which oftentimes discourages patients from seeking hospice care that may help them cope with their advanced terminal illness. CMS will study whether access to such services results in improved quality of care and patient and family satisfaction, and whether there are effects on the use of curative services and the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

Due to robust interest, CMS expanded the model from an originally anticipated 30 Medicare-certified hospices to over 140 Medicare-certified hospices and extended the duration of the model from 3 to 5 years. More information from CMS can be found here.

According to Medicare claims data, only 44 percent of Medicare patients use the hospice benefit, and most use the benefit for only a short period of time. This model encourages beneficiaries to receive palliative care services that are provided by the MCCM participating hospice concurrently with services from their curative care provider.