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Hospice competition – State will decide this fall

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The nonprofit Hospice of Wake County is trying to block a bid by a national for-profit chain to open a competing hospice, the Raleigh News & Observer reported August 15.

Minnesota-based Home Health, with support from a group of local doctors and nurses, argues that the competition will improve hospice care for Wake’s growing population.

Hospice of Wake County and its allies argue that the competition might put them out of business, however.

“It would bring an out-of-state franchise into Wake County and establish unnecessary competition,” said executive director Karolyn Kaye. “Sometimes competition is very healthy, but we don’t have a marketing budget. It would be hard to compete with a national franchise with deep pockets.”

Hospices care for dying patients and their families. Patients usually remain as home, with hospice nurses administering strong pain medications and providing other services. Hospice patients typically have less than six months to live.

Hospices have traditionally been community based, nonprofit organizations, but are becoming a competitive battleground as for-profit companies look for new sources of revenue.

North Carolina regulates the number of hospice agencies in the state to prevent an oversupply, which could drive up costs for state and federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The state is reviewing Home Health’s petition, although the state has said in the past that Wake doesn’t need another hospital agency. The State Health Coordinating Council is expected to make a final decision this fall.

For the full story, go to the News & Observer.

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