More than $1 Million Spent on Hospice Lobbying, Battle Rages On

Top for-profit hospice companies Vitas and Gentiva have spent nearly $1.2 million on lobbying this year in an effort to prevent Medicare payment reductions, reports USA Today.

Both companies have paid significant sums to Washington lobbyists in the interest of preserving Medicare funding, with a primary focus on a bi-partisan bill that would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to test a new payment system for at least two years.

This would result in the program not starting until October 2013, and would delay any changes in payment for at least four years, says USA Today.

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The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden( D-Ore.) has 11 co-sponsors.

Lobbyist reports show that Vitas spent $390,000 on lobbying in the first half of the year, citing CMS programs that are “increasing pressure to control health care costs and to decrease or limit increases in reimbursement rates.” The company receives 90% of its revenue from Medicare and Medicaid.

During the same time period, Gentiva spent $798,100 on lobbying, with Wyden’s bill as their “top priority.”

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Additionally, trade groups representing hospice companies have formed the Hospice Action Network, which has spent more than $600,000 on lobbyists in support of the senator’s bill.

USA Today details the circumstances surrounding the planned change in billing, regarding for-profit hospice companies to tend toward patients who require less-expensive care, while still receiving a flat-rate Medicare reimbursement. Both companies face fraud investigations on both state and federal levels, according to SEC filings, USA Today reports.

The full article can be viewed here.

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Written by Alyssa Gerace