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Make Hospital Observation Days Count in Medicare

This letter was also sent to Representatives Joe Courtney and Glenn (GT) Thompson

March 9, 2017

The Honorable Sherrod Brown                                  The Honorable Susan Collins

United States Senate                                                   United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Bill Nelson                                        The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito

United States Senate                                                   United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Brown, Collins, Nelson and Capito:

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to endorse S. 568, the “Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2017.”  It is our hope that action will be taken on this important issue during the current 115th Congress.

The “Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act” is important to Medicare beneficiaries who are hospitalized and then need skilled nursing facility (SNF) care, which, under current law, must be preceded by a three-day inpatient hospitalization.  Today an increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries are hospitalized in observation (outpatient) status rather than being officially admitted as inpatients, which means Medicare will not pay for their SNF care.  Rather, beneficiaries are required to pay for expensive nursing home care themselves, or they may be forced to forgo care if they cannot afford to pay.  S. 568 would alleviate this situation by counting a period of observation status in a hospital toward satisfying the three-day inpatient hospital requirement to be eligible for the Medicare SNF benefit.

Your legislation is one of the National Committee’s top priorities because we support counting all time in the hospital, whether or not the individual is actually admitted as an inpatient, toward meeting the three-day prior hospitalization requirement for SNF care.  The current requirement imposes significant costs on seniors who require nursing home care after a hospitalization in which they are not officially admitted as an inpatient.

Thank you for your leadership on this important issue.  We look forward to continuing to work with you to secure enactment of the “Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act,” which would improve the Medicare program for today's seniors as well as future generations of beneficiaries.


Max Richtman
President and CEO


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