Las Vegas Sun

July 21, 2019

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Loophole hurts dying patients

No American should be denied access to quality end-of-life care due to their demographics or ZIP code. Unfortunately, under current law, as many as 27 million Americans could be denied access to the hospice physician of their choice.

That’s because a quirk in federal law prohibits patients of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) from keeping their physician when they elect to begin hospice services. Nowhere else in America does this type of restriction exist.

At their most vulnerable time, these patients are cut loose from their trusted physician and must find a new practitioner to serve them as they enter hospice. This is an unreasonable burden to place upon fragile patients and their families, who are dependent on the valued patient-physician relationship at a critical time.

I hope Congress will recognize the burden this problem causes for patients and families, and act quickly to enact the Rural Access to Hospice Act, which would fix this legal oversight.