Today there are over 3,000 hospice programs in the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam. These hospices are based off the first hospice program, St. Christopher’s Hospice, which was established in the London suburbs in 1967.
Interest in adapting the hospice program in the United States grew with the publication of the book On Death and Dying by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. In the book it was recommended that patient’s with terminal illnesses be allowed to participate in decisions concerning their medical care and be offered the choice of at home treatment instead of institutionalization.
With funding from the National Cancer Institute, the Connecticut Hospice Inc. opened in 1974. The Connecticut Hospice Inc. served as an example for other hospice programs. In the years to follow, government entities conducted studies and investigations to evaluate the possibility of paying for hospice care.
Finally, in 1986 Congress made hospice care a permanent Medicare benefit. In addition to Medicare, many Health Management Organizations cover hospice care for patients not covered under Medicare. Today, additional funding for hospice care comes from community contributions and donations, allowing hospice programs to reduce the fee based on the patient’s ability to pay.