I’m very excited to participate in this new endeavor, and pen the initial blog post for the Texas New Mexico Hospice Organization. As the President of the Executive Board, I had the recent privilege of attending the Council of States meeting in Washington, D.C. with Executive Director Larry Farrow. It had been nearly 20 years since I last attended this meeting, but the same energy was present in the discussion of pressing issues that we all face across the country. Topics such as short lengths-of-stay, increased regulatory scrutiny, labor shortage, and the continued drive towards meaningful outcomes measures – issues that we wrestle with frequently here in Texas and New Mexico – were of obvious importance on the national stage as well.
One topic in particular, which I learned about while attending a conference in Phoenix in early February, rose to the forefront as one of the most prominent issues of the day: elimination of the Medicaid room and board pass-through. While it seems like an unlikely goal to set, it would free hospices of all manner of administrative burdens in having to act as intermediary between state Medicaid programs and skilled nursing facilities/nursing facilities for our patients that call such a facility home. Several states are already well on their way to eliminating the pass-through. There were no fewer than five states who are working through different phases of this arduous, but worthwhile journey.
Think about it. If your organization could gain an extra 5% to put back into patient care, what could that do for the patients and families that you serve, not to mention your staff and care teams? Could you add another much-needed nursing position to staff up? Could you hire that perfect fit to lead your “We Honor Veterans Program”? Could you open that alternate delivery site to provide more local personalized care to the community? Could you afford to help your team members work towards hospice and palliative medicine certification?
I know that being able to focus our efforts, our energy, and our resources on those most vulnerable in our own communities is something that we can all get behind and agree on. Whether your local hospice organization is not-for-profit or proprietary, most TNMHO members are focused on a singular issue: more consistent and better care for those we serve.
To be sure, there will continue to be changes on the horizon for those of us that work in the field of medicine and care. But another eventuality is equally sure – the more that we give this gift of hospice and bring comfort to those at the end of their lives, the more we will continue to have collective positive outcomes in our healthcare continuum. From being able to give the right care at the right time, to lending a hand in saving our healthcare system’s valuable resources, one thing will remain true: delivering patient-centered care in this efficient, respectful, loving modality called hospice will change our culture for the better.
If you’re interested in consistent and timely learning events, the opportunity to share best practices, and being connected to some of the country’s most dynamic hospice leaders, please reach out to our executive team at 512-454-1247 and ask about TNMHO membership. It’s important for all of us to be well-informed. If you want help in keeping your team on top of the unrelenting change coming our way, join us – and become part of a dedicated, passionate hospice community in Texas and New Mexico. I’m confident you will be glad you did!
Chad Higbee, BA, CHA, ACHE | Chad Higbee brings nearly 25 years of hospice experience to his role as CEO of Hope Health Care in Garland and Greenville, as well as Crest Palliative Care in San Antonio. He is the current president of the TNMHO Executive Board. He is a former executive board member and former president of the Oklahoma Hospice Association (1997-2001). He has been married to his wife Sheila for 28 years. They and their family of five children call Rockwall, Texas their home.
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