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New OIG Reports Describe Troubling Problems with Hospice Care and Oversight

In July 2019, the HHS Office of Inspector General issued two new reports on hospice care and oversight that present new evidence that a growing number of hospices should be avoided due to a history of poor care. In Hospice Deficiencies Pose Risks to Medicare Beneficiaries, OIG found that over 300 hospices are poor performers, with California having the second highest number of poor performing hospices in the nation. The second OIG report, Safeguards Must Be Strengthened to Protect Medicare Hospice Beneficiaries From Harm, describes specific instances of serious abuse and neglect, and of related failures of hospices and regulators to identify and address them. One of OIG’s recommendations is to set up a system of penalties for hospices, which now face no sanctions other than the very rarely imposed termination from the Medicare program.