Publication Abstract

Authors: Carlson MD, Herrin J, Du Q, Epstein AJ, Cherlin E, Morrison RS, Bradley EH

Title: Hospice characteristics and the disenrollment of patients with cancer.

Journal: Health Serv Res 44(6):2004-21

Date: 2009 Dec

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To characterize the types of hospices with higher rates of patient disenrollment from the Medicare Hospice Benefit and the markets in which these hospices operate. DATA SOURCE: Secondary analyses of Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-Medicare data. Analyses included patients who died of cancer from 1998 to 2002 and who used hospice (n=90,826). STUDY DESIGN: We used generalized estimating equations to estimate the association of patient disenrollment with hospice size, years since Medicare certification, ownership, staff mix, competition, urban/rural status, region, and fiscal intermediary. Other covariates included patient demographic and clinical characteristics. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Patients were more likely to disenroll from hospice if they were served by newer hospices (OR=1.14; 95 percent CI 1.03, 1.26), by smaller hospices (OR=1.11; 95 percent CI 1.02, 1.20), or by hospices in more competitive markets (OR=1.17; 95 percent CI 1.03, 1.35). There was an independent effect of the hospice's fiscal intermediary on disenrollment, particularly disenrollment after 6 months with hospice (Wald chi(2)=21.2, p=.007). CONCLUSIONS: The reasons for higher disenrollment rates for newer hospices, for smaller hospices, and for hospices in highly competitive markets are likely complex; however, results suggest that there are organizational-level barriers to keeping patients with cancer enrolled with hospice. Variation across fiscal intermediaries may indicate that regulatory oversight, particularly of long-stay patients, influences hospice disenrollment.