New national legislation proposed in March would change Medicare billing rules to allow patients to more easily access Medicare’s institutional skilled nursing care benefit following a hospital discharge. Currently, patients can get the benefit only after a qualifying three-day hospital stay. If they don’t qualify, they often have to pay out of pocket for the subsequent skilled nursing facility placement.
The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, introduced by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), would allow the time patients spend inside the hospital on “observation status” to count toward their required three-day hospital stay. It also would establish a 90-day appeal period for those who have been denied this benefit.
SHM is one of a dozen endorsing organizations, joining the American Medical Association, American Medical Directors Association, and AARP. For more information, check out this month’s “Policy Corner”.
Larry Beresford is a freelance writer in Oakland, Calif.
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