What is "hospice" really?

Image Above: Acting Administrator of CMS Andy Slavitt and C-TAC Board Co-Chair Tom Koutsoumpas

Is hospice a commodity?  Is it a payment system for the dying? Is it only for the final days of life?  Is it only about giving morphine until a patient is no longer in pain?

Last week I attended the National Summit of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) in Washington DC.  The speakers were Congressmen and Senators, health care leaders and insurers, pastors, and seriously ill people, and the Acting Administrator of Medicare/Medicaid and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs; all people interested in making the care that serves those in their final years of life as compassionate and creative as possible.

While the meeting had outstanding speakers, what struck me was that most of these dedicated, intelligent and caring people think that we need a "new model of care" for people with advanced illness and hospice was hardly mentioned. They described this model...

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