Older residents stuck with huge bills

Sherrod Brown vows to fix high Medicare bills for certain patients
Tom Jackson
Jan 19, 2014
Older people admitted to the hospital for observation may find themselves “observing” unexpectedly large medical bills. So says U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who is introducing a bill to help Medicare patients who have gotten large bills for necessary additional medical care after going to the hospital.

Brown explained in a conference call with reporters Wednesday that Medicare will pay for rehabilitation in a nursing home if a patient first spent at least three days in the hospital.

The problem is that patients admitted on observation status don’t count in that three-day tally, Brown said.

Brown has introduced a bill, the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, which would allow time spent in the hospital under observation status to count toward the three-day requirement for getting skilled nursing care covered by Medicare.

Sue Daugherty, executive director of Serving Our Seniors, said she knows the issue that Brown has raised has been a problem for local seniors.

“They don’t think to ask, ‘Am I being admitted to the hospital, or is it observation status?’” Daugherty said.

“When seniors are transferred from a hospital to a nursing home for further care, they should be able to focus on their recovery instead of technicalities that could lead to sky high medical bills,” Brown said. “My bipartisan legislation would help ensure that seniors receive the care they need without incurring unexpected and unfair costs.”

Brown said his measure has been endorsed by a number of organizations, including the AARP, the American Medical Association, the American Health Care Association, the American Nurses Association, and others.

Brown told reporters that observation is meant to allow doctors to decide whether someone needs to be admitted as an inpatient. Hospitals are under pressure not to admit anyone unless it’s necessary.

Medicare law is complicated, and “some things happen that were probably not intended,” Brown said. “I don’t think anybody had wrong intent here”

Comments

Simple Enough II

The idiot will open another loophole.

tk

Senator Brown is great. So glad he's my Senator.

YoMamma

I love Senator Brown... almost as much as Marcy Kaptor! Keep up the steller work, you guys are awesome!!!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Is this a good thing to be fixed? Yes. Is this yet another example of government not being able to make decisions for people? Yes. Is this going to be a feather in the cap of a reelection campaign meaning our lives will be notches on a bedpost? Yes.

While I am sure I come across as a busybody skeptic most of the time here, I agree with the case of: Medicare law is complicated, and “some things happen that were probably not intended,” Brown said. “I don’t think anybody had wrong intent here”.

But what he proposes, as Simple above predicts, this will only go on to create more bubbles elsewhere that don't even need to be present at all if a central authority stopped amassing power over you for itself.

It's BLATHER, BLATHER, BLATHER time!

1. "Hospitals are under pressure not to admit anyone unless it’s necessary."

Who is applying this pressure? Why is this entity pressuring a medical facility in a direction that may not be best for the patient?

2. “My bipartisan legislation would help ensure that seniors receive the care they need without incurring unexpected and unfair costs.”

Unfair? What's "unfair" here, and especially to what are you comparing fairness? He either has something in mind that nobody ever asked or this is campaign speech filler. Unexpected I suppose I can understand, but even with the magnanimous ACA can anyone tell me right now how much it costs to get your arm put in a cast at Firelands? What about Fisher-Titus? I can't.

THAT is the problem and why healthcare seems to be so mysterious: nobody knows what anything costs! There is just an expectation that somehow it will always be there with no scale against which to shop, spur competition, etc.

jamo

I don't think they put casts on anymore. You have to go to a specialist for that now. At least that's what they did for my son a few years ago. Of course we still had to pay for the x-rays, ER, ER Doc, soft cast, etc. Plus pay for the specialist and all his work.