AHA to Congress: Don't slash payments to hospitals treating hospice patients

Thomas Nickels, executive vice president of the AHA, sent a letter to the Senate Monday asking lawmakers to reject a 2013 HHS recommendation to expand the hospital transfer payment policy for early discharges to hospice care.

The idea of expanding this policy to hospitals treating hospice patients is misinformed because the curative capabilities hospitals have are not offered in hospice care, Mr. Nickels wrote.

"[Hospice transfer] is a serious decision that a patient makes together with his or her family and physician. Hospitals do not 'push' patients into hospice in order to be able to discharge a day earlier, they transfer patients to hospice because it is the best setting in which to provide the care they need and have elected — to suggest that hospitals make this decision based on anything other than the patient's wishes and their physician's judgment is preposterous," Mr. Nickels wrote.

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