A comparison of hospice programs based on medicare certification status

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This article presents results from a study of 119 hospice programs in the United States. Personal interviews and questionnaires were utilized to collect data about hospice programs, their directors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains. Specifically, this article describes reasons programs sought Medicare certification, and the perceived advantages and disadvantages to being a Medicare certified program. Characteristics of both certified and non-certified programs are presented, and examined for differences. Potential access barriers such as restrictive admission criteria are examined in this article. Finally, perceptions of staff about hospice services in certified and non-certified programs are compared. Results from this study indicate that Medicare certified programs have longer lengths of stays, were more likely to include a nurse on the first visit, and billed patients more frequently than non-certified programs. Volunteer use was lower in the Medicare certified programs. Staff in Medicare certicertified programs were much more likely to view patients' medical needs as the primary focus of their programs. Results from this study suggest that Medicare certified programs may reflect a more medical model of palliative care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


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