Bill could accelerate nursing home entry

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Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Nursing home providers have rallied around a bill that would make it easier for hospital patients to qualify for Medicare funding in their facilities.

The legislation, H.R. 5950, would require observation days in the hospital to count toward the hospital requirement for Medicare-funded nursing home care. Many patients are accepted by a hospital for observation, not as inpatients.

Medicare will cover the first 20 days of a nursing home stay—but only if a resident stayed in the hospital for three days as an inpatient. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced the measure in July.

Hospitals should keep patients under observation for only one or two days under federal regulatory guidance, but some are staying much longer than that, according to the American Health Care Association.

The new healthcare reform law could worsen the situation because it penalizes hospitals that readmit patients within 30 days of being discharged.
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