Cuts threaten end of life Hospice care

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed cuts to Medicaid are threatening to make it harder to give your loved ones end of life care.

The current Illinois budget proposal would completely eliminate the Medicaid Hospice benefit, which could force people to spend their last days in the hospital instead of at home.

At Century Assisted Living in Carbondale, Teresa Kowalski works with the elderly to make things as comfortable as possible.

“Our facility is a small home-like facility, and obviously the families would like them to stay here where they can get more personal care,” Kowalski said. “Some of the residents have been here for eight to 10 years.”

As the people at Century Assisted Living start to decline, they know they can depend on Hospice of Southern Illinois to take care of them.

“The hospice staff is just like one big family,” Kowalski said. “When the resident reaches that stage of their life they don’t want to see a different face all of the time. Continuity of care is very important.”

Now Medicaid cuts are threatening that hospice care.

If the benefit is eliminated Hospice of Southern Illinois provider Deborah Hogg says people would be forced into hospitals, where bills quickly add up.

“We can reduce the cost because the care that we’re providing, every expense occurred as a hospice patient, is covered under that hospice benefit, which is a flat dollar amount per day, per patient,” Hogg said.

By reducing cost, Hogg says Hospice helps reduce the pain felt by the family.

“Everyone is entitled to that care at the end of life, to be able to die with dignity,” said Hogg.

Hospice of Southern Illinois is asking folks who are concerned about eliminating the Medicaid Hospice benefit to reach out to Rauner here, or State Rep. John Bradley at repjohnbradley@mychoice.net.

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