They say many could suffer if action isn't taken quickly

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - They reportedly help more than a million patients and families each year, and thousands right here in East Texas. However, for many hospice centers nationwide, that care could soon disappear. Losing a loved one can be a painful experience.

"The hard thing about this whole thing [is that] he's been battling for so long you get used to him winning the battles," said Corey Gray.

6 years ago, Corey's father Bill was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. For a week now, Bill has been in Hospice of East Texas.

"He knew things were going to be easier here with their care and their help," said Corey. "You start to come to grips with reality of what's about to happen so you have time to grieve and mourn and be there."

Hospice of East Texas opened it's doors 27 years ago, offering end of life care to nearly 300 East Texans daily. It recently joined thousands of hospice care centers across the country, signing a letter to President Obama. It urges him to end the cuts to the Medicare benefit that was set in place during the Bush Administration.

"As a non-profit hospice, we take the reimbursement that Medicare gives us and we use private fundraising...and between two of them, we make our care work," explained Nancy Lamar, VP of Community Relations.

She says hospice care is covered by Medicare.

"Hospice is already a model of very efficient care and very cost effective care," said Nancy.

The letter says hospice care saves Medicare more than $2-billion each year. Nancy says losing those reimbursements would greatly impact their ability to provide their services free of charge.

"The sun setting is just as beautiful as the sun rising," she said. "I would hope we would never have to turn anyone away."

"You start to come to grips with reality of what's about to happen," said Corey. "So you have time to grieve and mourn and be there."

...when some say it matters the most.

President Obama approved a moratorium on the cuts, but it expires in September. Non-profit and for-profit providers alike are asking president Obama to end the cuts by October.

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