90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Big Business And Hospice Care

How dying became a multibillion-dollar industry.  We dig into the booming business in hospice care and big charges of fraud

Joe Takach, talks to his friend Lillian Landry, as she spends her last days in the hospice wing of an Oakland Park, Fla. hospital. (AP File)

Joe Takach, talks to his friend Lillian Landry, as she spends her last days in the hospice wing of an Oakland Park, Fla. hospital. (AP File)

When the end comes – and it comes for us all – we want it to be peaceful.  Dignified.  We want to be in calm and knowing hands.  Increasingly for Americans, that means turning, when death is near, to hospice care.  A generation ago, hospice was almost unknown.  A few non-profits here and there.  Today, hospice care has exploded into a huge, multi-billion dollar business.  With lots of distinctly, aggressively for-profit players.  Drawing billions from Medicare.  And charges of fraud and mistreatment.  This hour On Point:  what’s happened with American hospice care.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ben Hallman, senior financial reporter and investigative reporter for the Huffington Post. His investigative piece is called “How Dying Became a Multibillion-dollar Industry.” (@ben_hallman)

J. Donald Schumacher, President and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. NHPCO represents both non-profit and for-profit hospices, including Vitas, one of the main national chains that reporter Ben Hellman highlighted in his report.

Dr. Diane Meier, Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care. She is Principal Investigator of a National Cancer Institute-funded study on palliative care services for cancer patients and on the Board of Directors of non-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York. She received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2008. She is the author of: Palliative Care: Transforming the Care of Serious Illness.

From Tom’s Reading List

Huffington Post: How Dying Became A Multibillion-Dollar Industry – Mounting evidence indicates that many providers are imperiling the health of patients in a drive to boost revenues and enroll more people, an investigation by The Huffington Post found.

New York Times: Differences in Care at For-Profit Hospices – For the terminally ill and their families, the disenrollment issue seems troubling. Some hospices now discharge 30 percent or more of their patients, withdrawing the services they’ve come to rely on.

The Washington Post: Terminal neglect? How some hospices treat dying patients – For more than a million patients every year, the burgeoning U.S. hospice industry offers the possibility of a peaceful death, typically at home. But that promise depends upon patients getting the medical attention they need in a crisis, and hundreds of hospices provide very little care to such patients, a Washington Post investigation has found.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jan 27, 2015
Leader of Syriza left-wing party Alexis Tsipras speaks to his supporters outside Athens University Headquarters, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. A triumphant Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that his radical left Syriza party's win in Sunday's early general election meant an end to austerity and humiliation and that the country's regular and often fraught debt inspections were a thing of the past. (AP)

A leftist victory in Greece, and anti-austerity pushback across Europe. We’ll ask where this goes.

Jan 27, 2015
As any ant knows, building a reliable team can be hard. (Flickr / Guildmn20)

From Silicon Valley to your office, some teams work better – and smarter – than others. We’ll look at the surprising reasons why.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jan 26, 2015
Frederick Daniel Hardy's "Baby's Birthday" (1867) shows a typical Victorian English family at home.  (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Brush your teeth with soot, stay away from water, wear a steel corset. We’ll talk with the author of “How to be a Victorian.” Strange ways from another age.

 
Jan 26, 2015
Yemeni protesters gather during a demonstration to show their support to Houthi Shiite rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015.  (AP)

Yemen in turmoil, a new king in Saudi Arabia. We’ll look at what’s next for the Arabian Peninsula. Plus: the President’s trip to the Indian subcontinent.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: January 23, 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

New thoughts on Facebook, new analysis of State of the Union twitter activity and new weekend excitement. New! And exciting!

More »
Comment
 
Meet On Point’s Interns: Spring 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

Good news! We have interns, and they are wonderful, and here they are for the spring term. Meet them digitally, right here.

More »
2 Comments
 
Caller To Author Ron Rash: ‘You Cared About People Like Me’
Thursday, Jan 22, 2015

An unexpected caller from South Carolina brings back guest Ron Rash’s years as a community college professor in a movingly real way.

More »
1 Comment