Bill addressing admission status receives praise

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A bill that would require hospitals to give patients a formal notice of their admission status has received strong support from healthcare associations.

Representatives Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act of 2014 on Monday.

“This bill is a positive step forward, and raises attention to a complex and critical issue hurting the nation's seniors,” said Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living. “We applaud [Reps.] Doggett and Young for serving as champions for seniors and those individuals who need our services the most.”

The NOTICE Act would require hospitals to notify patients of their status if they are in the hospital “under observation” for more than 24 hours.

While the difference between staying “under observation” or being an inpatient can be difficult for patients to understand, “the economic implications can be extreme if the patient later requires care in a skilled nursing facility,” Young said.

“Providing this notice can make a difference in out-of-pocket costs to a Medicare patient of $10,000, $100,000 or even more,” he said.

Medicare Part A covers skilled nursing care only if Medicare beneficiaries stay in the hospital as an inpatient for more than three days; coverage would not be provided if patients stayed “under observation” for the same amount of time. The NOTICE Act would help to protect Medicare beneficiaries by alerting them of their admission status and educating them on their eligibility and financial costs, according to Doggett.

“This bipartisan bill arms patients with the knowledge they need to be their own best advocates and prevent costly surprises if they need skilled nursing services,” he said.

The bill is endorsed by AARP, The Alliance for Retired Americans, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, LeadingAge, AHCA/NCAL, and National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

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