Senator Collins and Bipartisan Group of Senators Reintroduces Observation Stay Legislation

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Va.) have reintroduced their bipartisan legislation, the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, that would allow the time patients spend in the hospital under “observation status” to count toward the requisite three-day hospital stay for coverage of skilled nursing care. The 3-day inpatient stay requirement is currently waived during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the bill would:
• Amend Medicare law to count a beneficiary's time spent in the hospital on “observation status” toward the three-day hospital stay requirement for skilled nursing care; and
• Establish a 90-day appeal period following passage for those that have a qualifying hospital stay and have been denied skilled nursing care after Jan. 1, 2021.
Senator Collins said when seniors require hospitalization, their focus should be on their health and recovery, not on how they were admitted.
“The financial consequences of this distinction between an observation stay and inpatient admittance can be severe for seniors,” she said. “Our bipartisan bill would help insulate older Americans from undue out-of-pocket costs and ensure that they get the care that they need.”
The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act has been endorsed by more than 30 organizations, and has been introduced in previous Congressional sessions. MHCA urges Congress to enact this important legislation and thanks Senator Collins for her unwavering support on this issue.

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