Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Call to Action: Contact your legislators to support hospice care!

Today, you can make a tangible difference for hospices across the nation. Hospice Action Network and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization are encouraging all hospice supporters to call their Members of Congress and voice their concern about the Hospice & Medicare Part D issue.

On June 17, over 240 of your fellow Hospice Advocates, representing 47 states and districts, and every discipline in the IDT, are in Washington, DC, visiting more than 300 Congressional offices to call for support of hospice.

Advocates on Capitol Hill will request that Congress ask CMS to temporarily suspend the Part D implementation for hospices- and Americans across the national are needed to convey this same message from their homes.  

The Hospice Action Network has created an easy to use online "Click to Call" Campaign that will help people understand the issue and then connect them to their Congressional representatives. The whole process should take no longer than 30 minutes, start to finish- that’s all it takes for you to make a difference.

To watch our video, which explains the Part D policy changes, and how the calling system works to connect you to your Members of Congress, visit this special page of the Hospice Action Network website.


Monday, June 9, 2014

CMS Part D policy hurting hospice patients and families

A hospice patient in Oklahoma City is being denied his medications to treat his COPD, while coping with a diagnosis and treatment for tongue cancer.  In Cadillac, Michigan a patient struggling with colon cancer is being denied insulin to treat his diabetes and is in danger of diabetic shock.

Due to a recent and poorly thought out Medicare Part D Prescription Drug policy, dying patients are revoking hospice services to maintain access to other necessary prescriptions for diseases unrelated to their terminal illness that Part D have paid for until recently. 

Patients’ families are left at the pharmacy counter with no refill of medications, after the pharmacist announces that because the patient is on hospice, the pharmacy is no longer allowed to fill their prescriptions – which in not accurate.  Or they are going days, sometimes weeks, without the necessary medication to manage symptoms that were present before they elected the hospice benefit due to unnecessary complications in approving prescriptions under Part D.

The intention of the new Medicare Part D policy implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is to prevent the federal government from incurring duplicate costs for medications of hospice patients. 

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has strongly opposed the inadequate and haphazard implementation of this guidance. 

NHPCO agrees that hospice providers should be held responsible for all drugs that are related to the terminal diagnoses and those drugs that are unrelated should be billed to Medicare Part D.  

NHPCO acknowledges that there have been instances of Part D payment for drugs that should have been covered by the hospice provider under the Medicare hospice benefit. 

NHPCO continues to encourage CMS to halt the implementation of the Part D guidance and convene key stakeholder groups to collaborate and create a strategic and uniform process.  An effective solution can be reached so that Part D providers, pharmacists, hospice providers and beneficiaries have developed a coherent process together and hospice patients are not denied the medications they need at the end of life.    

Monday, June 2, 2014

NHPCO and NHF Mourn the Death of Chair Emeritus Zachary Morfogen

With much sadness the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the National Hospice Foundation share the news of the death of Zachary Paul Morfogen, of Palm Beach who died Tuesday, May 27, 2014. He was 85 and was with family in Pennsylvania at the time of his death.

As founding chairman emeritus of what was the National Hospice Organization and the National Hospice Foundation, Mr. Morfogen was a longtime advocate for hospice and currently served on the Foundation’s Board of Governors.

He became one of the nation’s earliest advocates for hospice care during his tenure as a trustee of Riverside Hospital in New Jersey.  While there, Mr. Morfogen persuaded Riverside Hospital to establish one of the nation’s first free-standing hospices and later convinced Time magazine to do a story about the then growing hospice movement in the U.S.

During the early years of his work with Riverside Hospital, Mr. Morfogen saw firsthand the need for more compassionate care for the dying. At the suggestion of a colleague, he visited Cicely Saunders, founder of St. Christopher’s Hospice in London and widely recognized as the founder of the modern day hospice model. About his visit at St. Christopher’s he shared:

One day there, I saw a hospice patient who had to be in her eighties celebrating her birthday – big party, cake, candles, the whole bit. I said to Cicely, “So, how long does she have left?” Cicely said, “Oh, about a week.” I thought, wow, what a difference between what this was and what I saw at Riverside.

He was dedicated to the arts and was actively involved in the creation of the ground-breaking exhibition, “Hospice: A Photographic Inquiry,” that opened at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in 1996 and then toured the nation.

A love for the power of art to communicate and educate led to the creation of the National Hospice Foundation’s Zachary Morfogen Art of Caring Award which recognizes those who use the arts to increase awareness of hospice care.

Mr. Morfogen was a painter and author whose books included You Gotta’ Have Art and Dealing with Death Free From Fear which was published only this month.

He is survived by his two children and their spouses, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a sister. His beloved wife, Marilyn, died in 2011.

Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to the National Hospice Foundation, 1731 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314 or The Roosevelt Institute, New York, NY.

Mr. Morfogen’s obituary and online condolence book are available online.