For the last several years, the Center has been trying to address the problem of Observation Status in the hospital, which can affect both what Medicare beneficiaries pay for hospital stays, and their coverage of subsequent care in a nursing facility. For the last several sessions of Congress, bills have been introduced to try to fix the problem for Medicare beneficiaries by counting all time spent in observation toward the three-day prior hospital stay requirement for skilled nursing facility care.
On March 23rd, alongside Center for Medicare Advocacy Executive Director Judith Stein, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT) announced the reintroduction of the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2015. As the Congressman stated, “My bill would fix this problem by counting all days spent in the hospital—whether admitted or on ‘observation’—toward the three-day requirement to qualify for Medicare coverage. This is a bipartisan effort that has been gaining momentum as more seniors and their families learn about this problem firsthand.” See Rep. Courtney’s press release at: http://courtney.house.gov/press-releases/alongside-patients-families-and-medical-professionals-courtney-announces-bill-to-restore-promise-of-medicare-coverage/.
The following day, Senators Brown, Collins, Nelson and Capito reintroduced the companion Senate bill. See Sen. Brown’s press release at: http://www.brown.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/brown-collins-nelson-capito-introduce-bill-to-end-arbitrary-medicare-policy-that-leaves-seniors-with-unfair-costs-after-receiving-necessary-care.
For more information about observation status, see: https://www.medicareadvocacy.org/medicare-info/observation-status/.