● Legislation Addressing Hospital Observation Status for Medicare Patients Filed

By Carol Barton

In our blog dated November 7, 2012, we informed you about the costly consequences for Medicare patients if their hospital status is categorized as observation vs. inpatient; see Medicare Shift: What you don’t know about Observation vs. Inpatient status could cost you.

According to The Center for Medicare Advocacy, we are pleased to report, that on March 14, 2013, bills addressing this issue were filed in the House of Representatives (HR1179) and in the Senate (S569). Similar bills were also introduced in earlier sessions of Congress. If passed, this legislation would amend the Medicare Act’s definition of “post hospital extended care services” to clarify that time spent in the hospital in observation status counts toward the three-day prior hospital prerequisite for Medicare skilled nursing facility coverage.

Until the bills are enacted into law it remains important to be diligent about your, or a loved one’s, hospital classification to avoid costly consequences. We will continue to track the bills and keep you advised of their status.

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