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When patients and their families experience a life-limiting illness, the physical and emotional challenges are burden enough. But the financial stresses sometimes are more than a family can bear. So its vital to fully understand the financial benefits available to Medicare enrollees who choose to take advantage of their hospice benefit.The Medicare Hospice Benefit is ALL-INCLUSIVE. Medicare-certified hospices must accept the per diem reimbursement rate as 100 percent coverage for the services provided to the hospice patient and family.For patients, that means no more co-pays, deductibles or coverage limits. All prescription medications, lab and diagnostic work, and medical equipment and supplies related to the patients terminal illness are provided at no cost to the patient. It also means that hospice professionals provide care related to the patients terminal illness at no additional cost to the patient.Hospice is a Medicare benefit that provides care for both the patient and the patients loved ones. The Medicare Hospice Benefit requires all Medicare-certified hospices to provide an organized program of services to meet the bereavement needs of the family for at least one year after the beneficiary's death. This helps to ensure that all terminally ill patients and their families have ready access to compassionate and effective end-of-life care. Visit vitas.com/florida or call VITAS at 866-928-4827.Editors Note: Submitted by Tamara DeCaro, Director of Market Development, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Collier County
Once upon a time... mental illness was thought to be on a par with leprosy, and appropriate treatment was deemed to be relegation to a sanatorium or leper colony. While both have dispelled most folklore, myths and misconceptions, mental illness is still subtly saddled with an unwarranted and obstructive silent demon: Stigma.Stigma erodes confidence in our knowing that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed this culprit to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to slay the dragon.Interesting to know, one in four families is affected by mental illness. It is not the result of low intelligence, lack of character or personal weakness: Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemmingway, Patti Duke, Terry Bradshaw, Mike Wallace and Jane Pauley are but a handful of notable examples.Most importantly, mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can experience relief from their symptoms with the proper treatment plan. The Collier County National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 239 434-6726, among other organizations, can direct and assist in support of this process utilizing a variety of their SW Florida programs and resources.Understanding mental illness, appreciating the cause and supporting its programs bring awareness and success and along with it, an effective weapon to remove the mask and expose mental health stigma for precisely what it is: A fairy tale.Author:The Collier County National Alliance on Mental Illness
Guidelines on the Hospice Compare website and how it can helpThree years ago the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a useful tool, on the www.medicare.gov/hospicecompare website, that can help anyone when choosing a hospice provider.The Hospice Compare website allows you to easily search for hospices by name or location and compare publicly reported data on hospice providers.The data is divided into five categories, including General Information/Level of Care, Conditions, Location of Care, Family Experience of Care and Quality of Care.The first category, General Information/Level of Care, defines the four levels of care covered in the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Offering all levels of care, including Respite and Continuous care, are important in identifying how hospices can appropriately care for patients.Data for the second and third categories Conditions and Locations of Care are extracted from Medicare claims to show general characteristics of hospice providers.You can also see the breakdown ofwherea hospice agency provides most care, such as at home, in an assisted living facility, nursing facility, or inpatient hospice facility.Finally, the last two categories are most important to consider. These show data on quality measures that hospice agencies are now required to submit.The Family Experience of Care data is a subjective measure of the experience of a patients primary caregiver. It comes from the Hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey.The data shows what percentage of caregivers would rate their hospice a 9 or 10 (on a scale of 1-10) and what percentage would definitely recommend the hospice agency to friends and family.The last category of data is Quality of Care. It shows the percentage of patients who received at least one visit from a registered nurse, a physician, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant in the last three days of life.Also under the Quality of Care tab, you will find scoring on how well hospices are doing when patients are first admitted.You should expect a good hospice partner to receive high scores on this Quality of Care data. It is essentially a straight-forward measure of whether hospice agencies are completing essential care processes or not.For more information, please visit www.medicare.gov/hospicecompareEditors Note: The article was written by Dawn Darvalics, PMP, who is the Directory of Quality and Education for Care Synergy/Pathways. She may be reached at 970-663-3500