HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE
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09:01 AM -- Introductory Comments
Representative Riesberg, Chair of the committee, welcomed the committee and introduced Representative Max Tyler, a newly appointed member to the General Assembly. Representative Riesberg spoke to the charge of the Hospice and Palliative Care Interim Committee. He also outlined the agenda for the July 8 and 9, 2009, meetings. He spoke to the committee deadlines, specifically that legislation must be requested by the September 24, 2009, meeting.
09:05 AM -- Introduction to Hospice and Palliative Care and Hospice Utilization
Dr. Cordt Kassner, Executive Director, Colorado Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, provided introductory remarks and a handout on his presentation (Attachment A). He spoke to the amount of money spent on health care at the end of one's life. He provided an explanation of the function of hospice care. He stated that hospice is designed to treat pain and the symptoms of end-stage illness, provide care for individuals and families, neither hasten or postpone death of the individual, but rather focus on quality of life for the individual and family members on the final journey of life. Dr. Kassner provided an overview of services provided by hospice, the composition of a hospice team who treats the individual, where an individual may access hospice care, and payment methods of the care. Dr. Kassner spoke to the benefits of hospice care for the sick individuals and family members.
Dr. Kassner provided an overview of palliative care. He stated that palliative care focuses on relief of physical and personal distress for individuals with a terminal illness or a chronic disease. He stated that full spectrum palliative care services are not reimbursed under Medicare. Representative Riesberg asked for a bit more explanation regarding why palliative care is not covered by Medicare. Dr. Kassner stated that many primary care physicians do not have a board certification to administer palliative care and therefore it is not covered by Medicare. He stated that Medicare is seen as a very fragmented system. The committee discussed palliative care versus curative care.
Dr. Kassner provided information to the committee regarding hospice utilization. He provided statistics regarding the number of patients using hospice, the average stay for a patient in hospice, and where Colorado stands on a national level compared to other states regarding hospice utilization. He provided information regarding Medicare reimbursements from a state perspective and a national perspective.