Highland News Leader

Letter to the Editor: State must not cut hospice funds

Dear Editor,

We are urging supporters of Hospice of Southern Illinois to contact Gov. Bruce Rauner at www2.illinois.gov and Hospice of Southern Illinois’ state representative, John Bradley, at repjohnbradley@mychoice.net regarding Gov. Rauner’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget eliminating Medicaid Hospice Care, which would be effective beginning July 1.

Rep. John Bradley is a member of a special oversight committee to look into the whys behind the governor’s reasoning for cutting and eliminating Medicaid hospice care.

This cut increase the state’s spending, not decrease it. Here are the facts:

▪ Eliminating Medicaid hospice care will increase state spending ranging from $2300 to $10,000 per beneficiary.

▪ In 1995, Illinois removed the Medicaid hospice care and restored it in less than three months because of evidence of significant cost increases to Medicaid.

▪ Expensive hospitalizations and ER visits will increase drastically. A study from The Journal of Clinical Oncology found that patients not enrolled in hospice were 30 percent more likely to go to the ER and 38 percent more likely to be admitted to the hospital.

▪ Eliminating the Medicaid hospice benefit disproportionately affects minorities and low-income families.

▪ Illinois will still be responsible for room and board charges in nursing homes whether or not the Medicaid hospice benefit is available. Over half of the hospice budget in Illinois is for room and board in long-term care facilities.

▪ Terminal illness affects all ages, even the very young. Today, many young women are in Hospice care who, because of poor health care, detected breast cancer in its late stages. Nearly 38 percent are African American or Hispanic.

▪ Medicaid hospice care is a proven system of care that families rank nationally at 90.2 percent satisfaction level.

Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for people of all ages facing a life-limiting illness or injury, hospice and palliative care involve a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional support. At the center of hospice and palliative care is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity.

Rebecca J. Wisdom, president and CEO

Hospice of Southern Illinois Inc.