Contact: Senator Peggy Gilmour
CONCORD – New Hampshire Medicaid patients can get the benefit of hospice care at the end of life now that a 2009 state law has been fully implemented this month.
New Hampshire is one of the last states to offer hospice care under Medicaid – a move that’s expected to save money since hospice care is generally less expensive than hospital care.
“Individuals and families want this choice to be available. Hospice programs empower patients and allow them to direct their own care. We speak about death with dignity and this law makes that possible for all our citizens,” said Senator Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis), who sponsored the bill.
“Not only have we improved access to quality care at the end of life, we’re also better stewarding the state’s health care dollars,” she continued.
Hospice care provides coordinated and comprehensive services to dying patients and their families, including home care, bereavement counseling, pain management and symptom control. Some hospice organizations also have facilities where they provide medical care and services to dying patients outside of a hospital or nursing home.
Senate Bill 42 required the state Health and Human Services Department to amend the state Medicaid plan to establish the hospice benefit on or before July of 2010. The new benefit was made available as of July 1 and according to the department, 11 people on Medicaid have elected to use the benefit in the first two weeks.
The legislation had widespread support from health care providers, health advocates and organizations such as the American Cancer Society.
More information about hospice care in New Hampshire is available from the New Hampshire Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at www.nhhpco.org