Medicare cutback will impact end-of-life care in Wyoming

Laramie, WY – A cut to Medicare scheduled to take effect in October could have a big impact on Wyoming's end-of-life or hospice programs. That's the analysis of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Don Schumacher is the president of the organization. He says if the White House and Congress don't prevent the cut, rural hospice programs will be especially hard hit.

Schumacher says end of life care is also growing in importance as the American population ages. He looks ahead to the period between 2011 and 2028. "There's going to be about 70 million people that are going to die in this country and quite a few of them are going to be needing pretty comprehensive care at the end of life," Schumacher said. "And hospice, I think, is a significant solution to the cost problem we'll be experiencing."

Studies show 25% of Medicare is spent on people in their last year of life. Researchers at Duke University found hospice can reduce costs significantly.