Medicare-Observation status–Medicare’s little trick

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2011 | Uncategorized

Observation status refers to this increasingly common hospital practice of putting patients in beds and providing them with medical and nursing care, diagnostic tests, treatments, services, food, and a wrist band – but calling them outpatients, not inpatients.

No harm, no foul?  Wrong!  It’s simple – the difference in terminology makes all the difference in the world: Inpatients qualify for Medicare coverage of their nursing home care following a hospital stay; outpatients don’t.


Congressman Joe Courtney (D. CT),  and the Center for Medicare Advocacy held a Congressional briefing on “observation status” to alert Congress about Medicare beneficiaries who are being denied Medicare coverage for care in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) when their prior stay in an acute care hospital is labeled “outpatient observation” rather than inpatient. Read about this at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/777/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8514

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