Ira Byock, MD; Steven H. Miles, MD
Medicare denies hospice coverage to patients with terminal illnesses who enroll as participants in phase I studies, which assess the toxicity and dosing of potential treatments for incurable diseases. Federal regulations require patients to forgo curative therapies, and they interpret phase I agents as treatment for the terminal condition for which hospice care was elected. Thus, by enrolling as a participant in a phase I trial, a patient otherwise eligible for hospice is rendered ineligible. Private insurers have similar provisions for children and adults younger than 65 years of age. Such exclusions are not defensible on ethical or clinical grounds. Policymakers, insurers, and institutional review boards all have a role in resolving this problem.
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Byock I, Miles SH. Hospice Benefits and Phase I Cancer Trials. Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:335-337. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-138-4-200302180-00013
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(4):335-337.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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