(This article first appeared in the July-August 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2015 (H.R. 1571) addresses many of our concerns regarding out-of-pocket expenses for nursing facility care once an individual is released from a hospital and the hospital has coded the stay as “observation status.” This bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress on March 24.
Medicare currently covers care in skilled nursing facilities when in-patient hospital care lasts for at least three days. However, when a hospital codes the stay as “observation status” it doesn’t fall under the in-patient rule, so the patient doesn’t qualify for Medicare coverage for a stay in a skilled nursing facility once he or she is released from the hospital.
H.R. 1571 “amends Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to count the period of observation services in a hospital toward satisfying the three-day in-patient hospital stay requirement for coverage of skilled nursing facilities services under Medicare.”
This bill was introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Rep. John Larson (D-CT), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep. Bill Bascrell (D-NJ), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. William Keating (D-MA), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Rep. Christopher Gibson (R-NY), Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Susan DelBene (D-WA), and Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY).
H.R. 1571 has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee. I urge you to ask your congressional representative to co-sponsor this bill. It could help many seniors financially.