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Medicare proposes higher hospice payments

The CMS intends increase Medicare payments to hospices and also make several tweaks to policy definitions and procedures to ensure more accurate reimbursement.

The proposed payment rule would increase hospice payments by 1.3% for an estimated $230 million more than they received in fiscal 2014.

The rule also seeks to clarify the meaning of "terminally ill" in the hospice benefit. To be able to use the Medicare hospice benefit, a patient must be deemed to have a life expectancy of six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. While this has long been the standard, the CMS says the medical community has continued to express interest in a more nuanced definition.

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