Typically, not dying is a good thing. You wake up, look out the window and see the sun, “Wow. I’m still alive.” It’s a good feeling.
It’s a feeling Irene Olsen didn’t expect to experience much longer. She has been battling stage 4 lung cancer and “debilitating COPD,” and doctors gave her less than six months to live.
But that was two years ago. She has been receiving hospice care for two years now, and apparently that’s just too long. Irene’s daughter, Dana, was informed recently that her mother would be losing her hospice benefits.
“Bottom line — she’s not dying fast enough. That’s the bottom line. I received a phone call last week: ‘We had a meeting. We decided she’s stable, and we’re pulling hospice.’ They didn’t offer an alternative.”
According to the Medicare rules, hospice is only for the actively dying, which at first makes it seem like anyone is eligible. After all, we’re all slowly dying right now, but they clarify that “terminal” means less than six months to live.
That was the original outlook for Irene. But now? Well, who knows when she’s going to die. She might just live forever, “I’m not going to die. I’m assuming I’m not going to die,” she told reporters.
And while this situation is uncommon, it has happened before. The industry actually has a name for it: graduating from hospice care.
Irene can appeal the decision, but we imagine that’s a 3-6 month process, and who knows what will happen by then. For now, she’ll be forced to return to her private doctor and supplemental insurance.
Source: CBS New York