AHCA Pushing Bill to Protect Senior Citizens' Full
Access to Skilled Nursing in Medicare
Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2011
presented by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and
Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT), Tom Latham (R-IA)
26, 2011 - The American Health Care Association (AHCA) on April 14
issued a news release applauding the introduction of “bipartisan”
legislation in both Houses of Congress to remedy for senior citizens the
“complex and confusing process resulting from observation status during
a hospital stay.”
“There is a growing trend
harming seniors who need critical skilled nursing care following a
hospital stay that often leaves them in a no-mans land,” stated Governor
Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA.
Introduced by Senators John
Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) along with Representatives Joe
Courtney (D-CT) and Tom Latham (R-IA), the Improving Access to
Medicare Coverage Act of 2011 would rectify a confusing status that
leaves seniors in a limbo land of healthcare delivery. The bill ensures
that time spent under observation status in a hospital to count toward
satisfying the 3-day inpatient hospital requirement for coverage of
skilled nursing facility services under Medicare.
Often patients are kept much
longer than the prescribed limit for observation stays and are not
informed of their admission status. In fact, says the AHCA, from
2007-2009 the number of patients spending four or more days under
observation status doubled.
"Patients who need to enter a
skilled nursing facility following an observation stay face the
possibility that their care in the facility will not be covered by
Medicare Part A because of the lack of hospital classification as an
inpatient," says the AHCA news release.
"This can result in patient
confusion and the possibility of not receiving appropriate and necessary
skilled nursing care. In some instances, patients arrive at a nursing
facility, and because Medicare will not cover the benefit they are
forced to pay out-of-pocket."
“The post-acute care
profession is eager to work with our Congressional champions, hospitals,
physicians and CMS to ensure that beneficiaries are not deprived of
necessary and appropriate Medicare-covered post-acute care because of
lengthy observation stays,” Parkinson concluded.
“Sens. Kerry and Snowe and
Reps. Courtney and Latham recognize this problem and how deep it runs,
and we applaud their efforts ensuring that we can not ask the elderly
and frail to pay with his or her health.”
“When senior citizens get sick
they need to know that they’ll get the care they need. The last thing
they should have to worry about is a billing technicality that could
saddle them with outrageous out of pocket costs,” Senator Kerry said.
“This bill will eliminate an
unnecessary financial hardship on Medicare beneficiaries that can stand
in the way of the skilled nursing care they need. I look forward to
working with Senator Snowe and Congressman Courtney to bring some peace
of mind to patients and their families.”
“When patients should be
focusing on their recovery, far too many are caught off-guard by this
ambiguous policy,” said Senator Snowe.
“This bipartisan legislation
provides much needed clarity and will ensure that patients receive the
full coverage they deserve.”
“This commonsense change will
ensure that seniors no longer face thousands of dollars in bills for
skilled care because of an arbitrary federal policy,” said Congressman
Courtney. “There are no two ways about it: three days in the hospital
are three days in the hospital. Anyone who meets that threshold should
receive the same benefit from Medicare.”
As the nation’s largest
association of long term and post-acute care providers, the American
Health Care Association (AHCA) says it “advocates for quality care and
services for frail, elderly and disabled Americans. Compassionate and
caring employees provide essential care to one million individuals in
our 11,000 not-for-profit and proprietary member facilities.”
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