Observation Status Coalition Heads to Capitol Hill

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the Observation Status Coalition recently headed to Capitol Hill as a group to meet with members of Congress and its staff to raise the issue of Medicare beneficiaries’ access to skilled nursing facility (SNF) care being constrained by the increased use of extended hospital stays in observation status.  Specifically, the group is advocating for the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013 (S. 569/H.R. 1179), which aims to ease access to skilled nursing care for Medicare beneficiaries following a hospital stay.  The coalition brought with it a fact sheet signed by a dozen organizations including AHCA/NCAL.  AHCA staff has been hitting the Hill since the bill was introduced in March and welcomes the opportunity to work in a coalition with others interested in advancing the legislation. The coalition will continue to meet with key Congressional offices to garner support for the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act.
 
AHCA has long advocated that all days spent in a hospital, regardless of “inpatient” or “observation” status, should count toward Medicare’s three-day hospital stay requirement.  In order to access the SNF benefit under Medicare Part A, patients currently must be admitted to a hospital for at least three days.  S. 569 and H.R. 1179 would deem time an individual spends under observation status eligible to count towards satisfying the three-day requirement.  Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced S. 569, and Representatives Joseph Courtney (D-CT) and Tom Latham (R-IA) introduced companion legislation, H.R. 1179, in the House of Representatives.  

AHCA has made the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act a top priority, and AHCA/NCAL members attending Congressional Briefing on June 3rd & 4th will have the opportunity to advocate for this important legislation.  For more information on this issue, please feel free to contact AHCA or visit the Observation Stays page on the AHCA website.  AHCA will continue to provide updates on this important matter.