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For Immediate Release
Contact: Matthew Shepard, Communications Director
MShepard@MedicareAdvocacy.org, (860) 456-7790

July 14, 2016 – The Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA) is thrilled to be partnering with The John A. Hartford Foundation to improve care for older adults with long-term and chronic conditions. With the Foundation’s generous two-year grant, CMA will be able to focus on solutions for older adults caught in the web of hospital “outpatient” Observation Status, which reduces access to key health and therapeutic care.

Over the two-year grant period, CMA, will gather existing resources and collect stories from beneficiaries, produce and update advocacy materials, and conduct extensive outreach and education that will improve observation status policy through regulatory change, improved federal guidance, and increased awareness by legislators. The grant funding for this project will also strengthen CMA’s advocacy on other important issues, including increasing access to oral health care for older adults.

“Outpatient” Observation Status is a policy created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to classify certain very short hospital stays for billing purposes. The intent was to identify, and pay less for, these stays.

Medicare hospital patients are increasingly classified as “outpatients” on Observation Status, rather than admitted inpatients. This is true even for patients who are in the hospital for many days, for diagnosis, tests, nursing, physician care and treatment. Unfortunately, Observation Status results in myriad unintended consequences. For example, Medicare coverage for post-hospital nursing home care is often entirely unavailable for Observation patients since it requires a 3-day prior inpatient hospital stay. Thus, Observation Status “outpatients” are ineligible for Medicare nursing home coverage even if they were in the hospital for many days or weeks.

Hospital Observation Status has profound consequences for the quality and cost of care available for older, vulnerable Medicare patients. It also harms hospitals and nursing homes, the Medicare appeals process, the integrity of the Medicare program – and shifts costs to State Medicaid budgets. With support from The John A. Hartford Foundation, CMA will be able to enhance efforts to reduce the harm caused by Observation Status and to advocate for better care for older adults.

“We are very pleased to support the passionately driven and highly expert staff at CMA, led by the indomitable Judith Stein,” said Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of The John A. Hartford Foundation.  “As our Foundation works to create age-friendly hospitals and health systems, CMA’s important policy work will raise visibility and diminish the negative impact of the Observation Status classification of older hospitalized adults through outreach and education.”

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About The Center for Medicare Advocacy

Established in 1986, The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan law organization that provides education, advocacy and legal assistance to help older people and people with disabilities obtain access to Medicare and quality health care. CMA focuses on the needs of Medicare beneficiaries, people with chronic conditions, and those in need of long-term care. The organization is involved in writing, education, and advocacy activities of importance to Medicare beneficiaries nationwide.

About The John A. Hartford Foundation

Founded in 1929 by John and George Hartford of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), The John A. Hartford Foundation, based in New York City, is a private, nonpartisan philanthropy dedicated to improving the care of older adults. Every eight seconds, someone in America turns 65. The largest-ever generation of older adults is living and working longer, redefining later life, and enriching our communities and society. Comprehensive, coordinated, and continuous care that keeps older adults as healthy as possible is essential to sustaining these valuable contributions. The John A. Hartford Foundation believes that investments in aging experts and innovations can transform how care is delivered, lowering costs and dramatically improving the health of older adults. Additional information about the Foundation and its programs is available at www.jhartfound.org.

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