Thursday, June 13, 2019

NDS – Send us Your Data!

Now through July 26, you have the opportunity to participate in the NHPCO’s National Data Set.

You may ask---what’s that?  Well, with all the data collected by CMS and other industry sources, there is still a gap in information that is useful for benchmarking your staffing, budgets, and supporting your strategic goals.  The NDS serves as a central collection point for some of this key data and brings together provider experience from across the industry.
By participating, you have access to this industry wide data so that you can benchmark yourself against other providers of similar sizes and geography.  This can be a gold-mine to many providers to help set and confirm staffing levels, budgets, influence delivery of care changes, and shape the goals of your Hospice and its services.  For NHPCO, we use this information to help us derive insights coupled with other data to influence lawmakers and policy that positively impacts our industry so it’s a win: win scenario.

Don’t just take our word for it:
Leanne Burrack, vice president from UnityPoint Hospice, says that her organization often depends on the NDS to benchmark operations.  They have used NDS related data and insights to help create staffing guidelines, inform budget projections, and influence on-going hiring and growth expectations across all disciplines.

Jennifer Kennedy, NHPCO’s senior director, regulatory and quality, uses the NDS results coupled with other data sources and her vast experience to create tools for providers such as NHPCO’s Staffing Guidelines which is designed to help providers develop staffing levels for quality patient/family care delivery.
Examples like these highlights how useful it is to have industry data to help us all work smarter, not just harder.  We need your help, please visit our NDS website to learn more about the specific questions, raffled prizes for participation, and/or to access the survey’s link.

By Don Sievert
NHPCO Senior Director, Decision Support

Monday, June 10, 2019

Contribute to The Hospice Music Project

Joy in a Teardrop: The Hospice Music Project was initiated with the creation of a song, Joy in a Teardrop, which was written as part of a songwriting workshop at NHPCO’s Interdisciplinary Conference in November 2018 in New Orleans. Led by GRAMMY award winning songwriter Tricia Walker and John Mulder, hospice professionals shared reflections of their work and put words to the many emotions experienced in caring for those at life’s end. Walker and Mulder shaped those words and added music to bring Joy in a Teardrop to life.

Spurred on by the hospice community’s positive response to Joy in a Teardrop, NHPCO is launching a  new program, Joy in a Teardrop: The Hospice Music Project, which will result in a full album of songs that reflect the experience of hospice professionals in the work that they do – the joys, sorrows, difficult and challenging times, and even the lighthearted and humorous moments that are a part of everyday end-of-life experiences.

Joy in a Teardrop: The Hospice Music Project, will be led by Tricia Walker and John Mulder, they will be assisted by other highly decorated songwriters, including Beth Nielsen Chapman and Marcus Hummon. These writers will take the thoughts and ideas provided by hospice and palliative care professionals and craft original songs, just as Walker and Mulder did with the original song.

NHPCO invites you to share your ideas with us – perhaps just a word or phrase, maybe a concept or thought, or even a meaningful story or vignette. It may be your experience, the experience of a patient or family, or something that was shared by a coworker.  They can be incomplete and scattered thoughts – we’d just like your reflections on this work that we all cherish.

You can submit your ideas at  If you have any questions about the project, you can also submit those to the same address, and we’ll respond to you.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Free Webinar: New Palliative Care Measures Project

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, in collaboration with the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care (which includes NHPCO) and RAND Health are pleased to officially announce a free public webinar to educate health care providers and the public about a Palliative Care Quality Measures Project that is currently underway through a cooperative agreement with CMS.

Attend a free webinar, Measuring Up: New Palliative Care Measures Project, June 26, 2019, 11-12:30 pm ET.

Don't miss the opportunity to participate in a complimentary webinar to learn about and discuss an innovative palliative care quality measures project that is engaging patients and caregivers throughout the measure development cycle.

Learn more and register online.

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Rural Access to Hospice Act Reintroduced in Congress

NHPCO and Hospice Action Network are happy to announce that the Rural Access to Hospice Act was reintroduced in the US House of Representatives yesterday by Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN). It had been reintroduced in the Senate last month by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Now that it is fully reintroduced in both chambers, it is imperative that Members of Congress hear from you!

We have reason to believe that a rural health package is being discussed in Congress, and we need to show that the Rural Access to Hospice Act has wide bipartisan grassroots support to bolster our argument to include this bill in the package. Can you please complete our Action Alert, and then share it with your staff and network?

Once you have completed the Action Alert, please consider completing a Letter to the Editor as well. Members of Congress read their local papers daily, and it influences their decision making if they see specific pieces of legislation mentioned in their local papers. Complete this pre-written Letter to the Editor to help spread the word!

Thank you for making time to be an advocate today!

Visit the HAN website to contact Congress today!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Palliative Care Playbook for Hospices

NHPCO proudly announces the release of its newest resource for members, the Palliative Care Playbook for Hospices. The Playbook has been created to help hospices who are offering or working to create community-based palliative care programs.

The Palliative Care Playbook for Hospices provides step-by-step instructions developed by hospice experts, to guide hospices in the development, implementation, and sustainability of a community-based palliative care program.

“The ability to provide care to more people, earlier, is becoming more important, and NHPCO is working to help our members prepare and succeed in this new healthcare landscape. The new Palliative Care Playbook for Hospices is an example of one such resource,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach.

The Palliative Care Playbook for Hospices content includes:
  • Needs assessment process
  • Business case development
  • Legal and regulatory considerations
  • Quality and data
  • Staffing
  • Budgets
  • Documentation
  • Reimbursement
“Our patients and families need hospices to think outside of the box. We're seeing expanding demos and models coming out of the CMS Innovation Center with the goal of transforming person-centered care delivery in the U.S.” said Edo Banach, NHPCO President & CEO. “Only a week ago, CMS announced the Primary Care First and Direct Contracting Models, which includes an advance care model for the seriously ill population.”

Additional attention has focused on the forthcoming Value Based Insurance Design (VIBD) demonstration and discussions of hospice and Medicare Advantage. The Medicare Care Choices Model (MCCM) is well underway and many providers are already contracting with ACOs and other providers in their communities.

“We are fortunate to have established programs in the field share some of their practical tools and resources for the Playbook,” said NHPCO Vice President of Palliative and Advanced Care, Lori Bishop, MHA, BSN, RN. “In addition, members of our Palliative Care Council provide insight and generously gave of their expertise in the creation of the first several chapters of the Playbook.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

NHPCO Comment on CMS Primary Care First Model Options

NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach, released the following statement in response to the Health and Human Services announcement of the Primary Care First Model Option:

“While we look forward to gathering more details about HHS’ recently announced set of payment model proposals, we applaud the Administration’s goal of delivering better value and care for patients. NHPCO has long advocated that any serious illness alternative payment model (APM) must balance population health and value-based care goals with the imperative to respond to patients’ unique care needs. 

“Key to the success of any model will be protecting and expanding access to high-quality palliative care and hospice services, and we hope that timely access to care will be integrated as a quality metric in the evaluation of the new Primary Care First Model. An interdisciplinary team is a key component of hospice and palliative care—but is not explicitly highlighted in the information released thus far. Any successful model will have to leverage interdisciplinary, person-centered care to be successful.

As the oldest and largest membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States, NHPCO stands ready to help with the development and implementation of an APM that meets these goals.

“NHPCO has also recently partnered with other stakeholders across our sector in expressing our ongoing excitement and support for a serious illness payment model that will increase access to palliative care services for patients and families. Together, we have a continued interest in working with CMS to inform model refinement and educate and activate the field for model implementation.”


Friday, April 12, 2019

Bringing Together Representatives from CMS, CMMI and HHS

As part of the 2019 Leadership and Advocacy Conference, to be hosted in Washington, DC, on April 15 - 17, 2019, NHPCO has secured attendance of a number of representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation, and the Administration.
  • Eric D. Hargan, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services will be the featured plenary speaker on Wednesday, April 17.
  • Hospice Assessment Instrument Listening Sessions – CMS is hosting three separate listening sessions for conference attendees to discuss the Hospice Assessment Instrument under development that will be part of the CMS Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP).
  • Monday’s CMS Update – Featuring CMS staff members: Cindy Massuda, Charles Padgett, Kelly Vontran, Lori Teichman, Shannon Landefeld , and Michael Plotzke of Abt Associates.
  • CMS Innovation Priorities – Discussion between Amy Bassano of the CMMI and NHPCO's Edo Banach.
  • MCCM and VBID –  staff members from these CMS programs will be participating in LAC activities as well.
This is a rare opportunity to hear noted leaders talk about issues that are of primary concern to our community.

It's not too late to participate in the LAC. Onsite registration at our conference hotel, the Marriott Wardman Park, is available. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

CMS Introduction to CY2021 Hospice Component in the VBID Model

(News from CMS) - The CMS Innovation Center will be hosting two webinars to support robust stakeholder engagement efforts and as a result, the seamless test of carving in the Medicare hospice benefit into Medicare Advantage, as part of the Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) model.

The first webinar will provide an overview of the model’s main goals and guiding principles, provide a brief review of Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Hospice Benefit, introduce the key model design considerations, and provide a general timeline for the coming months.

The second webinar will delve more deeply into CMS’s key design considerations that relate to beneficiary access, quality metrics and payment. During both webinars, CMS will share next steps and engagement opportunities as well as include a live question and answer (Q&A) session.

The first webinar will be held on Tuesday, April 9, from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. EST. Details on the time and date, including how to register, for the second webinar will be announced separately on the VBID model website.

Registration for the first webinar can be found here:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hospice: Leading Interdisciplinary Care

NHPCO is proud to announce the publication of Hospice: Leading Interdisciplinary Care, a policy brief outlining key aspects, goals, and benefits of hospice care. The document, which was commissioned by NHPCO and developed by Dobson|DaVanzo & Associates, is intended to serve as a comprehensive guide for policymakers and stakeholders who seek to learn more about the Medicare Hospice Benefit and understand why an integrated, person-centered care model should be adopted more broadly in America’s evolving healthcare landscape.

Through evidence-based quantitative research and extensive case-study analysis, Hospice: Leading Interdisciplinary Care illustrates the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial benefits of hospice care for patients, families, and communities throughout the country.

The paper also provides important policy considerations to expand access and availability of this critical model of care. Of utmost importance is preservation of the integrity of the Medicare Hospice Benefit during any changes to care delivery. The paper further concludes that knowledge and access to information and services should be widely available for patients and families evaluating advance care planning and treatment options. The paper recommends policymakers consider expanding palliative intervention earlier in disease progression to further ease care transitions to hospice for constituents.

Specifically, the paper offers the following action items as opportunities for advancing the hospice value proposition:

  •  Preserve the integrity of the hospice benefit as Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, ACOs and other organizational delivery forms as they expand in coming years
  • Concurrently coordinate the hospice benefit with medical and behavioral care under all Medicare payment model
  •  Expand timely access to hospice and palliative care based on the individual’s unique care needs
  • Ensure high-quality supply of hospice care providers and professionals who are poised to address the rapidly aging population seeking hospice and palliative care

“We hope this document will serve as a resource for policymakers and others who want to learn more about hospice, and will highlight the value of hospice as an example of a successful coordinated care model,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “Hospice exemplifies the principles of quality, compassionate, personalized care that works for beneficiaries, payers and policymakers.”

A link to the full policy brief is available here.