Friday, September 6, 2013

Observation Stays in the National Spotlight


It’s no surprise that observation stays are getting prime time treatment: more than 1.6 million Medicare beneficiaries enter into hospitals under observation, according to a recent Kaiser Health News FAQ article on the topic. With the potential of so many Americans at risk of losing access to skilled nursing care after a hospital stay, it stands to reason that the media would take notice and work to educate the public.

Over the past few months, AHCA/NCAL has been teaming up with other associations and organizations to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to use its authority to address the observation stay issue once and for all. At the same time, observation stays have been gaining momentum in the public sphere. In the past month alone, stories of our nation’s most frail and vulnerable individuals being denied Medicare coverage of their skilled nursing care due to being in observation status have been the topic of articles featured in national and local outlets:

  • The Boston Globe: Status of Medicare Patients Can Result in Huge Bills
  • National Public Radio: For Hospital Patients, Observation Status Can Prove Costly
  • The Washington Post : HHS Inspector General Scrutinizes Medicare Rule for Observation Care
  • The Boston Globe (again!): Ex-Medicare Chief Urges Fix to Rule for Rehab Coverage
  • NBC (Connecticut ): Medicare Coverage Gap?
  • Tribune-Review (Pennsylvania): Observation Stays Don’t Count for Medicare Coverage, Many Seniors Harshly Learn
In addition, trade publications focused on health care, such as Kaiser Health News, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and Inside Health Policy, are monitoring the topic as it continues to be raised. AHCA/NCAL continues to be at the forefront of the issue, advocating for the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013 legislation, which currently has 16 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate and 93 in the House of Representatives and would deem time an individual spends under observation status eligible to count towards satisfying the three-day requirement. To read more about the observation stays issue, visit the AHCA/NCAL website or CareNotCuts.org.

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