Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) in introducing bipartisan legislation to update a current loophole in Medicare policy that would help protect seniors from high medical costs for the skilled nursing care they require after hospitalization. The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act would allow for the time patients spend in the hospital under “observation status” to count toward the requisite three-day hospital stay for coverage of skilled nursing care.
“When seniors require hospitalization, their focus should be on their health and recovery, not on how they were admitted,” said Senator Collins. “The financial consequences of this distinction between an observation stay and inpatient admittance can be severe for seniors. Our bipartisan bill would help insulate older Americans from undue out-of-pocket costs and ensure that they get the care that they need.”
Under the current Medicare policy, a beneficiary must have an “inpatient” hospital stay of at least three days in order for Medicare to cover post-hospitalization skilled nursing care. Patients that receive hospital care under “observation status” do not qualify for this benefit, even if their hospital stay lasts longer than three days.
The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act has been endorsed by more than 30 organizations including: AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, American Case Management Association, American Health Care Association, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, Center for Medicare Advocacy, LeadingAge, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, National Center for Assisted Living, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, and the Society of Hospital Medicine.
Click HERE to read a summary of the bill.