The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, S. 2048, introduced by a bipartisan group of Senators this week, led by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The bill allows the time that patients spend in a hospital under “observation status” to count toward the three-day inpatient hospital stay that a beneficiary needs in order to qualify for Medicare Part A coverage of post-hospital care in a skilled nursing facility. The companion bipartisan House bill, H.R. 3650, was introduced last week, with Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) as chief sponsor. Both bills are endorsed by more than 30 national organizations, including AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, American Health Care Association, Center for Medicare Advocacy, LeadingAge, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, and the Society for Hospital Medicine.
Although the Center for Medicare Advocacy believes that the Administration has authority under existing law to count time in observation status toward the three-day inpatient requirement (see: https://medicareadvocacy.org/cms-has-authority-under-existing-law-to-define-inpatient-care/), we fully support the legislation. A Medicare billing technicality should not prevent beneficiaries from getting the post-hospital care they need.
July 17, 2021 – T. Edelman