Friday, May 24, 2019

House Panel Tackles Surprise Billing; Advocates Pushing for Observation Stays Inclusion

Dana Halvorson

On May 21, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee held a hearing on surprise medical billing and how to eliminate enormous charges for unsuspecting consumers.  A number of members of a coalition supporting changes to how observation stays are classified are urging the Subcommittee to include the issue in any comprehensive effort to curtail bills that cause sticker shock.  In a written statement from the National Observation Stays Coalition, which includes the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living as a member, that will be sent to the Subcommittee -- the group said it formed to address a surprise medical billing issue that affects Medicare patients in hospitals who are called observation status patients, or outpatients.  Although these individuals receive medically necessary care that is no different from the care provided to formally admitted inpatients, their classification as observation or outpatient is significant, “because the Medicare statute covers a post-hospital stay in a skilled nursing facility only if the patient was hospitalized for three consecutive days as an inpatient,” the coalition said.  The group is also noting to the Subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), that eliminating surprise medical bills and the observation stays classification go hand in hand. 

You can read the full Provider article on this hearing here.  More on the observation stays issue can be found on the AHCA/NCAL webpage.  

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