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Budget cuts threaten patient care, hospice leader warns;

Pain treatments for military, quality of life programs and advanced palliative medicine education for clinicians also discussed

July 15, 2009 (San Diego) – Threats to quality patient care services, as well as support for education and evidence-based research in palliative medicine were key issues discussed with Congresswoman Susan Davis during her visit with medical experts at San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine.

President and CEO Jan Cetti stressed the importance of stopping impending budget cuts that threaten hospice care for patients with Medicare. The cuts come from a 2008 federal rule that eliminates a component of the Medicare hospice benefit known as the budget neutrality adjustment factor (BNAF), and would represent an approximate 4% cut in payments, jeopardizing the availability of compassionate and high-quality care that 1.5 million patients and their family caregivers receive from hospice providers each year throughout the nation.


“Hospice care is an effective part of the solution for patients and families facing advanced disease with poor prognosis. It is a model for high-quality care and research shows that hospice is cost-effective,” said Cetti. “These cuts would create significant barriers for seriously ill adults and children who could benefit from this care at a particularly fragile moment in their lives.”


Other issues discussed with Congresswoman Davis focused on the government’s role in paying for the medical training of specialists in the new specialty of hospice and palliative medicine. The federal government, through Medicare, pays for the clinical training of all physicians in the US.


Of particular interest to Congresswoman Davis is the potential for palliative medicine training for military physicians to address pain, symptoms, psychological, social and spiritual issues of wounded warriors, as well as expanding the palliative care knowledge of community clinics and long-term care facility providers through training and resources available from The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice.


“The need for access to consultative resources in palliative medicine is great,” noted Charles von Gunten, MD, PhD, Provost of The Institute for Palliative Medicine. “Understanding that our ability to relieve suffering has never been more powerful in the history of medicine, subspecialty consultation is one of the ways to make that knowledge practically available to clinicians. Discovering and disseminating that knowledge is our goal at The Institute for Palliative Medicine.”


“We appreciate Congresswoman Davis’ time and interest in learning about key issues that impact her constituents as well as the rest of the nation,” said Cetti. “We look to her support to help raise awareness about the benefits of hospice and palliative care, as well as the important work conducted in the field of palliative medicine.


San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine is one of the 10 largest community-owned, not-for-profit hospices in the country, bringing compassionate, expert medical care to more than 1,000 seriously ill adults and children each day throughout San Diego County. In addition to patient care, The Institute for Palliative Medicine is internationally recognized for its excellence in palliative care education and research and has achieved international recognition for its innovative education programs, patient/family-centered research and evidence-based advocacy. For more information, visit or call toll-free 866-688-1600.