NJ Hospice Care

Hospice Care Attorney in New Jersey

Has Your Doctor Recommended Hospice Care?

 Do You Need to Get Your Final Affairs in Order?

Let us help you.  Please contact us to speak to an experienced NJ hospice care attorney toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or you can contact me directly by email at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.

You’ve probably heard of hospice.  But you may be unfamiliar with the details concerning this philosophy of medical care. If your physician has recommended hospice for you or a family member, you likely have lots of questions. What is hospice? How does one enroll? How much does it cost? And perhaps…  Get answers to your questions by reaching out to Hanlon Niemann today.

What Is Hospice, Anyway?

Rather than a place to receive medical care, hospice is an approach to medical care for patients nearing the end of life. Its goal is to enhance the quality of life for patients with terminal illness. Hospice focuses on pain management and symptom relief, while addressing the patient’s emotional, social and spiritual needs—as well as those of family members. Hospice lets patients and families share the end-of-life experience with dignity and, in most cases, in the comfort of their own homes.

Each person entering a hospice program gets an individualized care plan. This plan is developed by a team of professionals and volunteers working with the patient and family members. Depending on the patient’s needs, the team may consist of the patient’s primary care physician, a hospice physician (or medical director), nurses, home health aides, social workers, clergy, trained volunteers and speech, physical and occupational therapists. Visit NJHospice.org

Why Choose Hospice?

A patient with a life-limiting illness may reach a point where he or she no longer responds to treatments aimed at curing the disease. At that time, the physician may recommend a shift in focus from curing the disease to making the patient as comfortable as possible. This shift toward palliative care is “comfort-oriented” rather than “cure-oriented.” It is medical treatment that seeks to control symptoms and manage pain. When the physician’s estimation of the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less, hospice care often is the best option.

Although some hospice care is administered in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospice centers, and inpatient settings, approximately 80 to 90 percent of hospice services occur in the patient’s own home.That’s partly because advances in technology have made it possible to operate much medical equipment in a home setting. It’s also because hospice team members and volunteers are available to provide services, as needed, including:

Pain and symptom management:

  • Assistance with the emotional, psychological, social and spiritual needs
  • Drugs, medical supplies and equipment
  • Training for family caregivers
  • Speech, physical and occupational therapy
  • Arrangements for respite care
  • Bereavement counseling for surviving family members and friends
  • Help with day-to-day chores and activities of daily living
  • Experienced counsel for end-of-life decisions
  • 24-hour on-call availability

If you would like to speak to a NJ hospice attorney, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com to schedule a consultation about your particular needs.  He welcomes your calls and inquiries and you’ll find him very approachable and easy to talk to.

Levels of Care for Hospice in NJ and Medicare Eligibility Requirements

Medicare pays a great deal of the services provided by Hospice throughout the country. In order to be eligible, a patient must be covered under Medicare Part A and must also have certification from a physician that the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less, assuming the illness runs its normal course. There is a great deal of confusion about the six month standard. It does not mean that the patient will lose his or her Hospice benefits after six months. Instead, it simply means that in order to be eligible, there must be a   six-month life expectancy. After the initial period of certification, however, the patient can have an unlimited number of additional sixty-day periods. So long as the individual continues to have a life expectancy of six months or less, Hospice can go on indefinitely.

To enroll in Hospice, the patient must sign a statement electing the Hospice benefit. This is perhaps the most difficult step for many families to take, since this election shifts the course of treatment from curative (i.e. intending to help the patient get better) to palliative (i.e. treating the pain, but not trying to cure the illness). Many patients worry that by electing the palliative (pain reducing) course of treatment, they are locking themselves into something that cannot be changed. That is not correct. The election from Hospice to non-Hospice to Hospice care can be made as frequently as the patient desires.

The question frequently arises… does Hospice pay for nursing home care? If the patient is a nursing home resident, there will be Hospice benefits available, much like if the resident were at home. The Medicare Hospice benefit will not cover the costs of room and board at the nursing facility. It will, however, continue to cover the types of services mentioned earlier.

A great benefit of Hospice care is that medication related to the terminal illness is covered with a maximum co-pay of five dollars per prescription. In this day and age of spiraling medication costs, this benefit alone can save families a tremendous amount of money. In addition, the new Medicare law added another valuable Hospice benefit. Under the law, patients can have a one-time educational consultation by a Hospice physician to the terminally ill patient, even when that patient is not yet in Hospice. The consultation could occur in a care facility or at home, and should also include a pain assessment, along with counseling on care options and advance planning.

What if the patient is not eligible for Medicare Part A? Are there other ways to pay?

In addition to Medicare, there are many ways that Hospice care may be paid for. Often, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and managed care organizations cover the cost of Hospice care. In addition to Medicare, for military patients as well as those covered by CHAMPUS (the health benefits program for retired military personnel and dependents) will frequently cover the cost of Hospice. Additional funding for Hospice also comes from community contributions, memorial donations and foundation gifts. Many Hospice programs also use a sliding-fee scale, based on a patient’s ability to pay for services when insurance and other benefit programs are not available.

Hospice Philosophy:  Living Well Until We Die

Patients and families who face a terminal illness may at first focus on the impending loss of life. However, hospice programs encourage them to make the most of living and enjoying what may be the patient’s last months. Staying in the home lets patients reunite with friends and family members. It gives everyone a chance to reminisce and laugh together, despite the sadness, anger and pain that often accompany death. Hospice lets patients live until they die — enjoying life to its fullest potential.

Do you have questions about hospice not addressed here?  If so, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com to schedule a consultation about your particular needs.  He welcomes your calls and inquiries and you’ll find him very approachable and easy to talk to.

Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. was recently asked to speak at the NJ State Bar Association Institute of Continuing Legal Education in New Brunswick, NJ on the essentials of estate planning.

Mr. Niemann addressed attorneys from throughout the state of NJ interested in learning key concepts and principals of NJ estate planning, including such topics as wills, trusts, estate taxations, asset protection, powers of attorney, health care directives, special needs and supplemental needs trusts for disabled and incapacitated individuals, avoiding probate through creative use of beneficiary planning, inheritance taxes, gifting and changes coming to federal estate taxation.

Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. attended the 46th annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning Conference from January 9th to January 13th at the Orlando World Center sponsored by the Community of Miami School of Law.  This week long session assembled the nation’s leading authorities to lecture and discuss the latest in estate planning techniques and strategies.  Topics analyzed and discussed included 1) elder law; 2) asset protection; 3) statutory case law developments; 4) planning with financial assets including annuities, Roth IRA’s, and life insurance policies; 5) litigation and tax controversies; 6) networking and practice development.