The Society Urges Congress to Protect Patients from Surprise Medicare Billing

May 30, 2019
Policy Snapshot

During a hearing on Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills, the Society—through its membership in the National Observation Stays Coalition—recently urged members of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee to take note how surprise billing affects Medicare patients in the hospital who are classified at observation status. “Although the medically necessary care they need and receive is no different from the medically necessary care provided to formally admitted inpatients.  The classification as observation or outpatient is significant, however, because the Medicare statute covers a post-hospital stay in a skilled nursing facility only if the patient was hospitalized for three consecutive days as an inpatient,” the groups noted.

The coalition hopes that recent efforts focusing on eliminating the burden of surprise medical bills throughout health care will help shine light on the long-standing observation status issue and its effects on Medicare patients in need of skilled nursing facility care.

The Society and the Coalition have supported bipartisan legislation, known as the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, which would allow for 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.

Take action today and tell your elected officials to support the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act: