•Press Release Health and Social Programs Healthcare Private Equity
In the past decade, hospice care has become a new target for private equity firms. Nonprofit agencies provided nearly all hospice care until 1982, when legislation was passed that required Medicare to provide a hospice benefit; its purpose was to enable terminally ill Medicare beneficiaries to receive the care they needed and live out their final months and days with dignity. Hospice was a low margin business, and there was little to no expectation that the industry would prove attractive to for-profit providers. But the lure of government-funded hospice care did, in fact, start to attract small for-profit hospice providers. This was followed soon after by publicly-traded corporations and then, crucially, by private equity firms that saw an opportunity to extract profits from caring for the dying.
Lax regulation of hospice agencies, with no standard for adequate care and a payment system that is easily gamed, has made it possible for-profit and PE-owned companies to commit widespread fraud, abuse & neglect of sick and dying patients.
Key findings include:
Policy suggestions include:
“Patients at the end of life are entitled to have their pain and other symptoms alleviated and to live out their last days with dignity – that is the promise of the Medicare hospice benefit. Opportunities to game the system and failure to provide adequate care to hospice patients should be eliminated; illegal behavior should be dealt with harshly. No one should be able to profit by preying on the dying,” write Appelbaum and Batt.
The full report is available here.