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Hospice patients and caregivers face budget cuts

READ MORE: Hospice patients and caregivers face budget cuts
Hospice caregivers across the country are concerned. The vast majority of hospice patients are Medicare recipients, and the Medicare program is facing budget cuts. The non-profit is going to the White House to make sure it still has the funds it needs to provide quality care. Bob Wesson is a volunteer at the Lower Cape Fear Hospice and Life Care Center. He has a personal connection to the non-profit. His mother was a hospice patient. "She had the most peaceful death I've ever witnessed. And the reason was hospice." The organization cares for 1.5 million Americans each year, but it faces a crisis. The federal budget forecasts a cut to Medicare hospice reimbursements totaling about 2 billion over the next “If these cuts go through, hospice is going to have to make a decision. Do they cut the number of patients? Do they cut the quality of care? Do they have to cut staff and all of that? In the end, it is going to impact the families and the patients," said hospice volunteer Barbara Birkenheuer. Lower Cape Fear Hospice President and CEO, Laurie Bystrom, said 85 percent of its 343 daily patients are on Medicare. Now, the federal government reimburses 135 dollars per patient per day, even if the patient care costs more than that. If the federal plan goes through, something has to give. Not something Bystrom wants to see happen. “I've personally seen story after story of people that come back to us, what a difference hospice care made in their lives and the lives of the ones that they've lost." October 1st the cuts go in to effect. Already 45 Senators, and 171 members of the House of Representatives have sent letters to the president to stop the cut of Medicare hospice rates. “It would just be wonderful if we could get some of those letters from the community in front of President Obama asking him, telling him, how important hospice care is to the individuals,” Bystrom said. On top of the humanitarian service it provides, research shows hospice actually saves the government money. A study out of Duke University shows that on average, hospice saves Medicare more than $2,000 per patient, and advocates say the proposed cuts just don't make sense.

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Hospice Saves Medicare Money

In a recent study from Duke University, Hospice Care actually saves Medicare dollars. It states that Hospice saves Medicare about 2,300 per patient. What is this world coming to if we do not provide for those that are sick and would like to die at home? Here is the link to the Duke University article: I'm really surprised and disappointed by some of the comments concerning this segment. It really proves how uneducated us Americans are about death and dying. If anyone does not support Hospice, you've never had their services. Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter is one of the best organizations in Southeastern North Carolina. We are all going to face our own end of life one day - I hope everyone has a chance to face it with Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter. If you believe in Hospice Care please assist them by -) 1) Write a letter to the editor to your local papers. Today, we're launching a new effort to involve your local media in the effort to stop the hospice rate cuts. We've provided template text, and all you have to do is customize it (if you wish) and choose from the provided list of local media to submit your letter. On the next screen, we even provide you with tips for customizing your letter to the editor. 2) Take a minute to send an email to the White House. You can still send a quick, customizable message to the White House by email if you click "Go" on last week's Legislative Action Alert. 3) Get hospice in the President's Purple Folder. Last week, we told you about the 10 letters from everyday Americans that get placed in a Purple Folder for the President to read each day. Dozens of you have shared your powerful letters to the President with us. Let's keep those personal letters to the President coming. Click here for tips and information on the President's Purple Folder. 4) It's not too late to call the White House Comment Line! If you haven't already, you can still call the White House Comment Line and leave a message for the President. Click here for talking points and the phone number. You can also learn more about the White House Comment Line by reading last week's View from the Hill column. Thanks for all you are doing to stop the hospice rate cuts! Your efforts are making a difference!

I support hospice

I do NOT support treating hospice, Medicare or Medicaid as sacred cows that do not have to face the same budget reductions as defense, law enforcement, and thousands of other programs. We are broke. So you go haead and view my opinions regarding death and dying as "uneducated," and I'll view your opinion as self-serving and trying to protect your pet ox from being gored.

Hospice Cuts

Why cut Hospice and bail out GM,Chrysler and all those banks that brought on the recession in the first place.Goldman Sachs got 50 billion-that would have kept Hospice going for how long? Obam the Imam is gonna bury us in debt for the rest of this century if we are not careful!

Goldman Sachs got a LOAN for $10 billion

It has already been repaid. Additionally, Goldman Sachs pays hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes every year. They are a revenue generator for the federal government. The situation cannot be compared to a pure entitlement, such as Medicare or a peripheral expenditure, such as hospice care.

Why should Medicare and hospice care be spared?

In austere times, EVERY program to include national defense, education, and law enforcement tightens their belts. Indeed, extravagant spending on those who are about to arrive at the final destination we ALL face is a bit foolish. Medicare, by it's very unrestricted nature, is similar to installing a new engine in a 1973 Chevy Vega. What's going to fail next month? And before you sob-sisters start, yes, I'm a senior citizen. I'm simply a senior who believes that giving me a multiple bypass or artificail shoulder when I'm seventy-five is a ridiculous waste of money. Why do we fear death so much that we'll spend millions trying to defer it?

common... perfect name

common... perfect name btw.... I really hope and pray that you never need the services that hospice offers, obviously you are not aware of the purpose of hospice, they would never pay for shoulder surgery nor a bypass surgery, they are simply there to make the last days for someone as comfortable as they can be. In other words, they are there to assist in the death process to make it easier. Obviously you may have good insurance and not need medicare but everyone is not as fortunate as you. *and yes I have a job, great insurance, and do not rely on the system to support me* However, my grandparents were very blessed to have hospice, my grandfather became disabled when he was 22 years old, and had to use a wheelchair, unable to work any longer, w/ 3 small children, my grandmother made ends meet by working 2 shifts a day.... I'm sure you would never understand situations like that where someone can't afford insurance or have medical conditions where most insurance policies consider pre-existing conditions where they can't get anything but medicare, not you obviously... I hope you never have to go without health insurance, and that you never have to rely on medicare as the only source to pay your medical bills.... and as I said earlier I pray that you never need the services that hospice offers, I for one am thankful for their purpose and pray that during these difficult times they will be able to stay afloat.

Pardon me....

..for managing my life well. BTW, isn't it THE FAMILY'S JOB to make someone's last days "as comfortable as they can be?" When did that become an obligation of the taxpayer? I think hospice is great, but I KNOW this nation is going broke. The Medicare cuts need to be made.

in response to commonsensenot

Keeping a person comfortable at end of life is the families job if they are available/not working/live in the same area/able to take fmla to care for family member/physically and mentally able ect. The family member/caregiver needs to be taught how to care for the dying person, instruction needs to be done on comfort medications, care of the dying pt, questions and arise on a daily basis with a dying person. It not as "easy" as it sounds.

Why should Medicare and Hospice be spared?

I appreciate your comments sir, but you are completely wrong about what Hospice care is. They do not "give multiple bypass ro artificial shoulders". They are not in business to "defer" death, but to make death a peaceful ending. They do not "lifesaving" measures but they ensure the last hours, days, weeks, or months of a person life are comfortable and pain free.

Gee, do you think I was talking....

...about Medicare when I mentioned those procedures? I KNOW what hospice does, thank you. It is a very noble effort. It also needs to face the same reductions in available cash as any other program. It is NOT a scaed cow.


My brother passed away at home under the care of Hospice in June. The care is excellent, and the peace of mind they gave my family, knowing he would have the best care and "his" wishes would be carried out. I am not a " sob sister", but I was his sister and I hope Hospice can continue what they are doing.

He was YOUR brother...

I'd say that "his wishes" were your concern, not a financial obligation to be thrust upon the taxpayers.


and again....You didn't pay for anything that concerned my brother.......and again, when its "your" time...just go.....This is what I am getting from your posts.....Because someone is dying, just let them die....Old man, are you kidding me?...Again, you did not pay for anything.....just shakes my head.........

Trust me - when it's my time....

I WILL just go. Dying is as much a part of life as being born is. Why fear it? Why be afraid of the inevitable. Why worry about things you can't control? If your brother wasn't on Medicare or Medicaid, then his care didn't cost me anything. If he was on either, than his care cost every single taxpayer.

Hospice/ poster Commensense

My brother wasn't on Medicare/Medicaid....So, no, it didn't cost you anything....Hospice helps families deal with death as we deal with living....again..just go....shakes my head, I really feel sorry for you..I am blessed, kowing when "my time" comes, I will have a loving family with me...And for the record...I worked 27 years, so if I am entitled to anything in the end, well so be it..You need to take the nic of yours and learn from it...


Just how ignorant are you? Hospice receives MEDICARE funding which comes from TAX DOLLARS that we tax payers pay out. So yes...we DO PAY FOR IT!

Hospice/ poster Commensense

I am not ignorant....He/she said if my brother was on Medicare/Medicaid, it did cost him, I replied that my brother was NOT on either, so his care didn't cost you or Common.....

I Agree

I totally agree common. Particularly in this department when you know people are going to die in hospice. I hate it for them but why cause others financial suffering because of it

Hospice need's more support

I have been a Volunteer with Hospice for many year's and it is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.I thank God for the strength he give's me to come out of my comfort zone to serve folk's in need. There is nothing I would not do for Cape fear Hospice and the many families I have met over the past five years. The pay of smile's and many new friendship's are pricless; all I invested is time and compassion. I ask everyone who can send a response to step up and demand those in power to do the right thing in that they help and not hinder the growth of a really great and wonderful thing called Hospice and espcially Cape fear Hospice

Hospice/ poster Commensense

Mr. Robinson......Thank you for everything you do. It is very much appreciated.

Hosice Cuts

One reminder as we try to persuade our leaders to not cut hospice rates. Hospice is mandated to provide 5% of patient time by volunteers. The volunteers are to be trained as if they were employees. A year of unfunded mandatory bereavement services are also part of the hospice benefit. How much more could you ask from a service that fights for the autonomy and dignity of it's clientele facing the most emotionally raw moments of their lives?


They do not need to cut out Hospice they are a good thing to have. I have had 3 people to die in hospice care and they took very good care of both my grandparents and my father-in-law. They also took very good care of the family members too. They give you good greif care after they have past and they are there for you all the way they answer your questions. Pople will be losing a good thing if they cut this program.