Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rep. Courtney Pushes Bill Expanding Medicare Coverage of Nursing Home Stays

Yesterday, AHCA was proud to welcome Congressman Joe Courtney to Beechwood Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in New London, Connecticut.  In addition to meeting with residents, Rep. Courtney also took the opportunity to talk about legislation that would allow observation stays to count towards the required three-day hospital stay needed to receive Medicare coverage for SNF care.  

In the past, Medicare beneficiaries across the country have often been surprised by the observation exemption, since hospitals are not required to inform patients that they are receiving observation care.  “My 98-year-old aunt and our entire family had to deal with two visits to the hospital, which resulted in not having a three-day qualifying stay but her needing a skilled nursing and rehab facility,” said Candance Antrop. “I had to cope with the stress of dealing with these bureaucratic guidelines and watch helplessly while her money disappeared.”

Observation stays are getting a lot of notice lately in the media.  The number of Medicare patients who enter the hospital for observation has risen 25% from 2007 to 2009 even though Medicare enrollment and hospital admissions have declined slightly.  Courtney’s legislation, Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2011 (H.R. 1543/S. 818), is co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and has bipartisan support, as does the Senate version introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

“This commonsense change will ensure that seniors no longer face thousands of dollars in charges for skilled care because of an arbitrary federal policy,” said Congressman Courtney. “There are no two ways about it; three days in the hospital are three days in the hospital. Anyone who meets that threshold should receive the same benefit from Medicare.”

Have you or a loved one had any personal experience with observation stays and Medicare?

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