House and Senate lawmakers officially introduce observation stay bills

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Lawmakers in the House and Senate formally introduced legislation to close the so-called “observation stay loophole” on Thursday.

The American Health Care Association praised the bipartisan group of legislators who created the bill, which would change a Medicare rule to broaden coverage. Currently, therapy in skilled nursing facilities is only covered by Medicare Part A after a three-day stay as an inpatient. Days spent in the hospital under observation status do not count toward this three-day minimum. The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013 would change this. As Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) noted when announcing the bill last month, this would save seniors money and reduce administrative burdens on providers.

“When an individual is in the hospital, the only thing that should be on her mind is a healthy recovery,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA. “We should not allow technical tasks such as coding interfere with providing the best care possible in all facilities.”

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