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$30,000 – that’s Mrs. Kauffman’s nursing home bill for care she received following a three-day hospitalization. Although she was in the hospital for three full days, Mrs. Kauffman was never admitted as an inpatient. Instead, she was classified as an outpatient on "observation status."  Because Medicare coverage for nursing home care is only available after a three-day hospital inpatient stay, Mrs. Kauffman could not get Medicare coverage and is responsible for the bill.

Every day the Center for Medicare Advocacy hears about people like Mrs. Kaufman who were in the hospital, getting tests, medication, and care – sometimes even getting surgery – but whose care was classified as outpatient observation.  Like Mrs. Kauffman’s family, these families are often left with huge bills they never expected.   Bills they shouldn’t have to expect.

You can help!

Tell Congress to pass the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1179 and S. 569) which will require that all time spent in the hospital count toward the prior hospital requirement for Medicare nursing home coverage.  This commonsense legislation protects Medicare beneficiaries and their families.

The problem of observation status is finally getting attention.  Just last week, USA Today and the Washington Post covered the issue, quoting the Center for Medicare Advocacy.  But the problem is getting attention because it is getting worse.  The families we talk with every day can’t pay $30,000 for necessary medical care. That’s why Congress must act now.

Contact your legislators now.  Tell them to pass the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1179 and S. 569) to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries and their families are protected.

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