Medicare Observation Status Addressed At HHS Confirmation Hearing

February 3, 2017
Policy Snapshot

This week, the Society worked with the Observation Status Coalition to submit a question during the Senate Finance Committee’s confirmation hearing for Representative Tom Price (R-GA), nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), sponsor of the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, asked “If confirmed, will you work to administratively correct this billing technicality that adversely impacts Medicare beneficiaries? If you are unable to do so administratively, will you work with me to pass this legislation to correct the deficiency in current law?”

In a written response, Representative Price said that “If confirmed, I will be pleased to work with you to further consider the necessity of the three day rule and its pros and cons. I will endeavor to work with the CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid] to identify what more can be done with regard to the observation status issue as well. And if the best path forward involves legislation, I would be pleased to work with you on that as well.”

Senator Brown plans on reintroducing the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, which the Society has supported in past Congresses. The bill enables time beneficiaries spend in the hospital under observation to count toward the three-day requirement for Medicare coverage. Observation status continues to be a priority and the Society looks forward to working with new administration to resolve this long-standing issue.