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Who is Safeguarding Hospice Care for People with Disabilities?

By Sophia Moore

 

As modern advances in medical science and health care continue to improve, people with disabilities that require hospice care are beginning to lead longer, more comfortable lives. However, in a market that has started to be seen as a cash cow for investment businesses since the beginning of the millennium, many people are wondering who is safeguarding hospice care for people who struggle with disabilities. The short answer is that the health-care workers themselves are the ones who are on the front lines of defense against big businesses whose primary purpose is to increase profits and the hospice fraud whistleblowers thankfully are under protection now.

Hospice care was once the domain of mostly local, non-profit organizations and their role was centered on making a person's final days of life as comfortable as possible. In the last 15 years, however, hundreds of investor businesses have begun to take over the industry. As the business continues to experience rapid growth and development from the for-profit sector, so too are the number of reported cases of healthcare fraud being perpetrated by less than honest businesses who are always seeking new ways to increase profits.

.There exists and an entire community of people within the hospice care field, who have been living with life-long disabilities that now must be addressed by in-home services either due to advancing age, or the onset of a terminal illness. The distinction between someone who has lived their whole lives with a disability, and those who are struggling with one due to age, or illness is becoming increasingly important. To maximize profits, some companies are making determinations on who may receive the benefits of care based on unfair and random ideas regarding who they feel deserves to have access to quality "end-of-life" services.

Estimated Statistics of Future Palliative Care

According to a 2014 report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), there are roughly 1.5 to 1.6 million people currently receiving some form of hospice care. In 2001 approximately 18.8% of Medicare recipients had accessed at least three days of services. By the time 2007 hit, that number has increased to 30.1%. As these number climb, so do the number of hospice care service providers. In 1974 the first hospice program was launched, by 2013 that number had risen to over 5,800 programs.

With such rapid expansion and no signs of slowing any time soon, many veteran health care workers are beginning to question some of the practices that they are seeing implemented by larger corporations. The primary witnesses to much of the corporate abuse, unfortunately, are the patients themselves. Many are not in a condition to do much about poor quality service, or even blatant abuses. Once they pass on any evidence of wrongdoing goes with them. Some newer employees are beginning to come forward with accusations of being poorly purpose to limit the possibility of anyone reporting company discrepancies.

As competing companies search for ways to diversify the industry, they seem to be currently setting their sites on the soon to be burgeoning numbers of people who will soon come into retirement age. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, currently about 40 million retirees meet this criterion and by 2030, those numbers are expected to rise to over 70 million people. Many are beginning to fear that without some form of protection such as watchdog organizations, and government investigation into abuses it is estimated that 1 in 10 American citizens over the age of 60 will be victimized by some form of in-home care abuse.

If you or a loved one is contemplating hospice care, it is recommended that thorough background checks be performed into the reputation of both the company and the employee selected to be the on-site caregiver and any abuse or questionable policy be reported to the proper authorities immediately to curb fraudulent activities.