Courtney's bill would take into account 'observation status' for Medicare-funded nursing home care

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Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) has introduced legislation that would allow hospital “observation status” to count toward the requisite three-day hospital stay for Medicare-funded nursing home care.

Medicare will cover the first 20 days of nursing home stays—but only if residents first have been admitted to the hospital for three days as an inpatient. Increasingly, patients are being admitted for observation only. Such status does not qualify as a hospital stay under Medicare's nursing home policy. More hospitals are admitting patients under observation because they don't want to violate Medicare laws, the American Health Care Association told The Hill Newspaper.

While hospitals should only keep patients one or two days for observation, many are holding them longer than that. That has confused families who believe that their family members would qualify for Medicare when they technically haven't, AHCA said. Nursing home care costs without Medicare cost between $300 and $500 a day. The bill, which was introduced at the end of July, is H.R. 5950.

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