November 14,2019

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Wyden Releases New Watchdog Report On Hospice Oversight

Data from Independent GAO Shows Differences in Hospice Care Between For-Profit and Non-Profit, Gaps in Oversight

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today highlighted a report by an independent federal watchdog showing gaps in hospice care. The report found that Medicare beneficiaries sometimes do not receive any visits from hospice providers in the final days of their lives and other shortfalls in oversight.

“Americans at the end of life and their families expect the best care possible – it’s unacceptable that too often hospice providers are falling short,” Wyden said. “This report outlines concrete steps that could be taken to improve hospice care. I will keep working to ensure all seniors receive respectful and high-quality care at this deeply personal time for them and their families.” 

The report, produced by the independent Government Accountability Office, found that while for-profit and non-profit hospices have similar average scores on quality measures used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for-profit hospices are more likely to have the lowest scores for certain measures. For example, the vast majority of beneficiaries who did not receive a visit from a health care provider in the last week of their life were served by for-profit hospices. Provider visits near the end of life are critical for quality care.

The investigation was conducted in response to a letter Wyden sent in 2016 asking the federal oversight agency to identify and assess the principal differences among hospices by for-profit and non-profit ownership type.

The full report from GAO can be found here.