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Hospice participation has grown at a dramatic rate, especially among those involved with Medicare. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), in 2012, an estimated 1.6 million patients received hospice care each year. The NHPCO reports a total of 5,500 hospice programs in operation in 2012—an increase of 1,000 programs since 2006. This number is expected to increase as the population ages and health care costs rise.