Medicare Payment Quirk Grabs Senate Panel’s Attention
Posted at 10:10 a.m. on July 31, 2014
Senators on Wednesday mulled the impact of a restriction in Medicare payment policies that has riled both hospitals and patients. When a Medicare patient stays in a hospital under “observation status” the person does not qualify for certain Medicare coverage in a subsequent stay in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility — and may end up paying more in co-payments and drug costs.
The Senate Special Aging Committee on Wednesday led an examination on the coverage quirk, which could come as a surprise to the patient and lead to additional out-of-pocket costs. CQ HealthBeat’s John Reichard reported that a hospital might admit a patient under “observation” status because the hospital fears that auditors will challenge whether the person should be admitted, throwing the facility’s Medicare reimbursement into doubt.
Separately, a bipartisan duo of Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Indiana Republican Todd Young introduced a bill this week, which would require hospitals to provide meaningful written and oral notification to patients who are in the hospital ‘under observation’ for more than 24 hours.