A hospice care group is facing imminent revocation of its license to administer services in Florida on a technicality, despite concern over the interruption of care administered to terminally ill patients who rely on their delicate work.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration has denied Compassionate Care Hospice‘s motion to stay a disruption in payment to the group pending appeal, though AHCA has the discretion to continue to allow the group to operate without interruption under state law.
The crux of AHCA’s rejection of CCH’s renewal paperwork is that they think the firm submitted it after a agency deadline, although the hospice group says it has credible evidence the forms were timely filed. “How many times has the U.S. mail lost letters or have large organizations lost letters in their mail centers?” one source close to CCH wondered aloud on Thursday.
CCH contends it sent its renewal application to AHCA well before the Feb. 21 deadline, but the agency says that it has no record of the renewal application.
A temporary injunction to “cease and desist” the shutdown order was filed by the group’s attorneys in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Polk County, which AHCA has agreed to allow while they sort the matter out.
In the meantime, CCH has continued to serve its 250 patients in Highlands, Polk and Hardee counties, despite having no assurances from the state that its work with the elderly and terminally ill will be reimbursed.
“In just this short time since the disruption of service we have noticed Mom’s attitude and health has declined,” Timothy McKenna, son of one patient affected by the interruption wrote to Tina Braungardt, program director at CCH. “It is a shame that an administrative error has negatively affected the lives of so many elders, including my mother’s. Please expedite in correcting this mistake so our mother as well as many other moms and dads get back to the great care you previously provided.”
For now, CCH and its 150 Florida-based employees play the waiting game while the state health care bureaucracy decides whether it will do the right thing, as the comfort and dignity of hundreds of patients hang in the balance.