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The Effect of Pediatric Palliative Care Policy on Hospice Utilization Among California Medicaid Beneficiaries

Journal title
Journal of pain and symptom management
Publication year
Lindley, L. C.

CONTEXT: California implemented pediatric palliative care legislations that allowed children to receive curative and supportive care from diagnosis of a life-threatening serious illness in 2010. Palliative care policies may improve access to hospice care as children near end of life. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of the palliative care policy on hospice utilization for children and their families was investigated. METHODS: Using 2007 and 2010 California Medicaid data, a difference-in-difference analysis was conducted to analyze hospice use (i.e., hospice enrollment, hospice length of stay) changes for children who resided in pediatric policy counties relative to those who did not. The sample of children in California who died with a life-threatening serious illness in 2007 and 2010 equaled 979 children. RESULTS: More than 10% of children enrolled in hospice care with an average of less than 3 days of hospice care. The palliative care policy did not have any effect on hospice enrollment. However, the policy was positively associated with increasing days in hospice care (incidence rate ratio = 5.61, P < 0.05). The rate of hospice length of stay increased by a factor of 5.61 for children in palliative care counties compared with children unaffected by the policy. CONCLUSION: The pediatric palliative care policy was associated with longer lengths of stay in hospice once the children were enrolled. Policies promoting palliative care are critical to ensuring access to hospice care for children.

Research abstracts