Making Hospice Transfusion Access a Reality
New research from OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center supports the blood transfusion carve-out, finding that hospice patients who experienced bleeding, breathlessness and profound fatigue showed significant improvement following blood transfusions. The study also found that symptom-triggered transfusions minimized the complexity of transfusion support and maximized patient-centered care.
Currently, the lack of appropriate reimbursement for blood transfusions prevents many hospices from providing quality of life-enhancing blood to hospice beneficiaries. Consequently, terminal patients who require transfusions to alleviate their symptoms and their families are faced with an impossible choice: receive at-home care through hospice services without the benefit of blood transfusions or receive symptom-relieving transfusions in-hospital.
“The lack of reimbursement for specialized care, including the provision of blood in outpatient settings, in the United States effectively ensures that patients do not receive the care they need,” Ipe said. “The pandemic taught those of us in the health care industry that patients prefer receiving care outside the hospital. However, the reimbursement model restricts most specialists from providing care in settings that patients prefer, namely physician offices or the comfort of their own home.”
Despite concerns over the cost-effectiveness of expanding transfusion access to end-of-life patients, there is ample evidence to suggest that the current Medicare model results in higher costs to the health care system. Delayed enrollment in hospice has been shown to lead to a greater number of emergency room visits and hospital admissions in the last 30 days of life, for instance.
Our Blood Institute firmly supports the passing of S.2186 and stands alongside national organizations like the Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies (AABB) and America’s Blood Centers (ABC). To ensure this critically important legislation is voted on and ratified, we encourage you to contact your senators.