Looking to open eyes about 'observations'
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
Bully for provider groups pulling out the stops to draw attention to the ludicrous mishandling of “observation stay” designations by many hospitals. One prong of the plan is to have providers supply anecdotes about individuals hurt financially and emotionally by the practice.
It was just three weeks ago that this space decried the way hospitals overused “observation stay” labels. The criticism still stands. It was sparked by a comment from Kathleen Sebelius, who wants the top job at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Now, it's up to providers to try to compel change. The American Health Care Association, for example, wants your stories and your ability to put a face(s) on this farce. Its leaders say they will use the stories on their website, and in meetings with members of Congress. A pair of bills, H.R. 1179 and S. 569, have been rallying cries for the proponents of change. Both bills would rein in hospitals' over-use of extended stays that don't appropriately get tagged as admissions.
Find out more about the background of this unfortunate scenario by clicking here. See an issue brief on it and the webpage dedicated to making things better for providers.
The AHCA thrust, which it highlighted last week, is actually a part of a coalition of many organizations, including LeadingAge, that is led by the Center for Medicare Advocacy. It has been lobbying on the bills above (and their predecessors) during the past two sessions of Congress. See more about it here.
Build the muscle to fight back. Do that by contributing to the lobbying and information-gathering efforts. This is no time to take a wait-and-see position. There's been too much “observation” done already.