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Hospice Quick Reference

Hospice care is compassionate end-of-life care that includes medical and supportive services intended to provide comfort to individuals who are terminally ill. Care is provided by a team. Hospice is often called “palliative care,” because it aims to manage a patient’s illness and pain, but does not treat the underlying terminal illness.

Hospice care is covered by Medicare if all of the following are true:

  1. The patient is terminally ill and has elected Medicare hospice coverage. Patients are entitled to two 90-day election periods, followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods. (Note: The attending physician (if one exists) and the medical director or physician member of the hospice interdisciplinary team must have certified in writing at the beginning of the first 90-day period that the patient was terminally ill. For all subsequent election periods, only a hospice physician must certify that the patient is terminally ill).
  2. The patient or his or her representative has signed and filed a hospice election form with the hospice of choice.
  3. The hospice provider is Medicare-certified.

To get the most out of hospice care:

Hospice appeals are complex and often difficult, as evidenced by the experience of Howard Back.  For information on both expedited and standard appeals as they should work, see

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