Florida’s elderly population continues to grow at a rapid rate, and so does the number of Hospice enrollees. Hospice is the primary model for end of life care in the United States, and is currently regulated in Florida by a process known as “Certificate of Need.” When the Constitutionally-mandated Constitution Revision Commission considered a measure to lift the Certificate of Need (CON) regulation, Florida TaxWatch saw it as both appropriate and timely to conduct an in-depth study of hospice facilities in Florida.
While the majority of the country has experienced explosive growth in the number of hospice providers, a new report from the state’s independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute, Florida TaxWatch, shows that CON oversight has actually resulted in a modest and steady growth for Florida. This process has helped reduce the likelihood of oversaturation of providers and ensure that more rural areas are covered so Floridians all over the state have access to hospice, according to the research. Because CON averts over-saturation of markets, it contributes to hospice programs being able to build state-of-the-art in-patient units funded by local community philanthropy.
“Patients with terminal diagnoses are faced with difficult decisions and an overwhelming amount of stress. Hospice providers can relieve much of the pain and stress, but that is if you have access to one,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Florida has the second most hospice patients in the nation but ranks 37th in the number of hospice providers. The Sunshine State should retain the CON process to ensure that ALL Floridians have the access to the quality care they need and at the level of care they require.”
The Constitutionally-mandated Constitution Revision Commission measure to remove the Certificate of Need requirement was withdrawn from consideration by the Commission. If Florida were to repeal Certificate of Need for hospice, the demand for geriatric specialists could outpace the supply, Medicaid and Medicare fraud could increase, and rural patients could have limited access to hospice providers. Florida TaxWatch recommends retaining the CON process and continuing to identify ways to better control hospice costs, improve the quality of hospice care, and direct investments into medically-underserved areas.
Read the full report on Evaluating the Need for CON in Hospice here.