Bill Seeks to Enhance Patient Access to Post-Hospital Benefit


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.


  1. Quinn K, Neeman N, Mourad M, Sliwka D. Communication coaching: A multifaceted intervention to improve physician-patient communication [abstract]. J Hosp Med. 2012;7 Suppl 2:S108.
  2. Sokol PE, Wynia MK. There and Home Again, Safely: Five Responsibilities of Ambulatory Practices in High Quality Care Transitions. American Medical Association website. http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/patient-safety/ambulatory-practices.pdf. Accessed February 12, 2013.
  3. Dharmarajan K, Hsieh AF, Lin Z, et al. Diagnoses and timing of 30-day readmissions after hospitalization for heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, or pneumonia. JAMA. 2013;309(4):355-363.
  4. JAMA Internal Medicine. Nearly one-third of physicians report missing electronic notification of test results. JAMA Internal Medicine website. Available at: http://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/nearly-one-third-of-physicians-report-missing-electronic-notification-of-test-results/.Accessed April 8, 2013.
  5. Miliard M. VA enlists telehealth for disasters. Healthcare IT News website. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/va-enlists-telehealth-disasters. Published February 27, 2013. Accessed April 1, 2013.

Next Article:

   Comments ()