Currently if a Dialysis patient acquires a Terminal Illness that is unrelated to their underlying Kidney Failure, they can choose to enter Hospice (care for the sick, especially the terminally ill) and STILL receive their Dialysis Treatments which is paid for by Medicare. However, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are proposing to fundamentally change this policy which ultimately makes Chronic Kidney Disease patients choose between ending Dialysis entirely or receiving critical Hospice Care.
Hospice is simply meant to focus on the quality of your life during your final days instead of prolonging your life. You may then ask, "Why not just stop Dialysis if one is going into Hospice anyway?" The answer is simple, Dialysis patients may contract an incurable Cancer or suffer serious Heart Failure and choose Hospice Care because they are tired of fighting. This is a completely different decision than ending Dialysis which may cause severe mental confusion, intense pain, rapid decline, and to many is considered one of the most difficult ways of dying.
One viewer wrote, "My 86-year-old mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer early this year. She decided not to receive treatment other than pain control because she had been on Dialysis for six years due to End-Stage Renal Disease and was totally worn out. Her cancer doctor told us he expected that she would live 3 to 4 months, referred her to Hospice, and sent her home. If she stops Dialysis, her kidney doctor says she will be dead in 10 days. We still have to get her affairs in order and say our goodbyes! If this proposal is accepted, she will be unable to remain on Dialysis throughout Hospice."
CMS is proposing to expand the definitions for terminal illness and related care, which could effectively require Hospice Providers to pay for Dialysis even when the patient may be dying of another condition or disease unrelated to their Kidney Failure. It is unlikely, however, that most Hospice Providers will offer Dialysis Treatments because the Medicare payment for Hospice would not be enough to cover such care. Thus Chronic Kidney Disease patients and their families are left to choose between giving up Dialysis and entering Hospice or continuing Dialysis but having to give up the supportive care and psychological benefits that Hospice currently provides them and their families.
End of life decisions are emotionally and physically stressful enough; and therefore CMS should not adopt a policy that provides a Chronic Kidney Disease patient only those 2 stark choices. Sign and share the below petition requesting that CMS offer an exception to their proposal and allow Dialysis patients to have Medicare pay separately for Dialysis Treatment and Hospice Care. Doing this will provide the patient with Terminal Illness access to Hospice Care benefits while also continuing to receive their Dialysis.
Most Popular Stories:
"End of Life Decisions for Dialysis Patients: Update on Proposed Medicare Rule." Http://nkfadvocacy.wordpress.com/. National Kidney Foundation.
"Hospice Care-Topic Overview." Http://www.webmd.com. WebMD.
"No Hospice If on Dialysis - Nextsteps." Http://www.lifemanagement.com/. My Final Decisions.