Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 7, 2013

Schumer wants Medicare observation change


Niagara Gazette — ”If you are holed up in a hospital bed for days on end, it shouldn’t matter what your billing status is and this plan help will save upstate New York seniors thousands,” Schumer said.

The number of observation cases has been on the rise in recent years, a consequence of policies meant to reduce Medicare expenditures, the senator said. According to most recent data from the American Health Care Association, the New York average for observation stays was 29 per 1,000 Medicare admissions in 2009, up 32 percent since 2007.

This number has likely risen dramatically since, Schumer said. This can lead to massive bills – in the tens of thousands of dollars – that senior citizens must unexpectedly pay for rehab and nursing home care, after their hospital visit.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013 would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act and ensure that patients 65 and older are eligible for coverage for their rehabilitation services, as long as they are in the hospital for three days.

The loophole affects hospitals and health care providers as well. They are reimbursed less from Medicare for the treatment of patients under “observation status” than those that are inpatient. 

”All health care providers (we talked to) are for this,” Schumer said.

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