NOTICE Act movement earns association approval

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living commended the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday for moving forward a bill that would change appointment of “observation status” for hospital patients.

Under the Notice of Observation, Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act, hospitals will be required to notify Medicare beneficiaries of their outpatient status within 36 hours of discharge. Time spent in outpatient observation status may affect patient's eligibility in obtaining Medicare coverage.

The NOTICE Act will now be considered by the full Senate. The House unanimously passed its version of the bill in March.

The committee also passed the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures Act, which addresses recovery audit contractors.

The bill asks the HHS secretary to issue a report describing the cost of payment vulnerabilities identified by RACs. It also authorizes the secretary to retain a portion of recovered amounts for a “program management account for activities addressing problems that contribute to improper payments and fraud.”

Legislators attempted to pass a similar bill in 2013.

Ten additional healthcare-related bills were also passed by the Finance Committee Wednesday.