Society Supports the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act

June 4, 2021
Policy Snapshot

Last week, lawmakers introduced the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2021. Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Susan DelBene (D-WA), and Ron Estes (R-KS) reintroduced the bi-partisan legislation that would allow all time spent in the hospital to count toward the Medicare three-day stay requirements for skilled nursing care. The current law requires a patient to be admitted as an inpatient for three days to reap the benefit of a stay in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). However, observation status has been increasingly used for the last decade to reduce the number of inpatient stays. In turn, this is preventing beneficiaries from receiving much needed post-acute care. Previous efforts have been made to try and alleviate the issue but have fallen short.

The NOTICE Act requires that patients be informed of their observation status, but it does not provide hearing rights or count observation time toward Medicare’s coverage for SNFs. The Two-Midnight rule requires inpatient status for payment from patients that are going to require services for a time frame that spans at least two midnights. This rule was created to reduce long outpatient and short inpatient stays. However, since its enactment, the Two-Midnight rule has led to an increase in outpatient stays, further preventing SNF benefits. A push for observation time to be included in the three-day stay has been steadily growing. The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act is an effort to include observation time toward the three-day stay or eliminate the requirement in its entirety.

Take action and ask your members of Congress to support the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2021.