1. Butcher, Lola

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A sizable minority of medical oncologists believe that palliative care and curative treatment are mutually exclusive, but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) suspects otherwise.

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CMS announced an initiative in March to develop a new payment system that allows Medicare patients to receive comfort from palliative care while they are being treated with curative intent. The goal of the Medicare Care Choices Model is to test whether providing hospice services to patients in active treatment can improve their quality of life and the care they receive, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce Medicare expenditures.


The test will be conducted in about 30 hospices; CMS expects to enroll 30,000 Medicare beneficiaries who are being treated for advanced cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, or HIV/AIDS over a three-year period.


"Clinicians, family members, and caregivers in this model will no longer need to choose between hospice services and curative care," Patrick Conway, MD, Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and CMS Chief Medical Officer, said in a fact sheet accompanying the announcement.


Currently, only 44 percent of Medicare patients use hospice at the end of life and typically for a very short period of time.


The new program comes from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, which was created as part of the Affordable Care Act.