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Congressman Lamar Smith Meets with Hope Hospice Executive Director

Congressman Lamar Smith met with Hope Hospice Executive Director, Shelton Bratcher, Monday to discuss important issues facing hospices today.

New Braunfels, TX, August 29, 2008 --( Medicare is planning on rolling out a cut which will affect the Hospice benefit. The first of three cuts is scheduled to be implemented on October 1, 2008.

With 80% of hospice patients nationwide eligible for Medicare benefits and an industry average of a 3.4% operating margin (according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization), these cuts threaten to negatively impact a segment of the healthcare industry already hit by rising fuel costs. Hope Hospice serves patients and their families in a fifty-mile radius from New Braunfels to care for seriously ill patients in their homes. According to Hope Hospice mileage logs, this equates to over two hundred thousand miles our nurses, aides, chaplains, social workers and volunteers traveled in 2007 to assist our friends, family members and neighbors in times of great need.

Hope Hospice Executive Director Shelton Bratcher and Development Coordinator Leslie Ferguson visited with Congressman Lamar Smith about Medicare budget cuts affecting Hospice. Congressman Smith stated, "Earlier this year, I spoke with officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the proposed cuts. Be assured that I support the role that hospices play and will continue to monitor any legislation that includes Medicare cuts to hospices."

Hospice care is most beneficial when able to serve patients and families for thirty days or more. This timeframe is ideal for managing pain and symptoms, addressing end of life concerns and educating the family on how to best deal with their loved ones’ spiritual, physical and emotional needs. This comprehensive care and education allows families to make the most of the time they have left with their loved ones. Nationally, the median length of service for hospice patients has been declining. This decline indicates the need for increased community education about the benefits of hospice care, but it also signifies an increase in the cost of hospice care per patient. Congressman Smith understands that hospices provide an invaluable service in caring for patients and assisting families in need. In a time of increased healthcare costs and increased need for understanding of available services, it is imperative that Medicare funding continues to be available.

Hope Hospice has been providing excellence in care, comfort and education to all in our community affected by life-limiting illness, grief or loss since 1984. They serve individuals and families in Comal, Hays, Guadalupe, Kendall, Caldwell and Bexar counties.

Contact Information
Hope Hospice
Leslie Ferguason
830-625-7525 x111

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