Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
A new federal law requires hospitals to alert Medicare patients when they are receiving observation care and why they were not admitted, according to Kaiser Health News. Observation care is when patients are too sick to go home, but not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. Unless the care falls under a new Medicare bundled-payment category, it is considered an outpatient service and patients must pay a share of the cost for each test, treatment, or other services they receive. Additionally, if older patients need nursing home care to regain strength, Medicare will not cover the cost because the coverage requires a prior hospital admission of at least 3 consecutive days, which does not include observation care, according to KHN. The notice is among the conditions hospitals must meet to get paid for treating Medicare beneficiaries; however, the most controversial aspect of observation care remains unchanged. “The observation care notice is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t fix the conundrum some people find themselves in when they need nursing home care following an observation stay,” Stacy Sanders, federal policy director of the Medicare Rights Center, told KHN.
Health care experts warn that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement plan could have a negative impact on hospital finances, creating serious concerns regarding health care quality and patient safety, USA Today reported. Pediatrician Josh Sharfstein, a former top health official in Maryland, told USA Today that the impact of the ACA goes beyond expanding health insurance coverage to Americans. The insurance reimbursement also helps keep hospitals afloat. “It’s underappreciated how much the ACA has focused the health care system on delivering a higher quality of care,” Sharfstein told USA Today. “The consequences of hospitals being under financial distress including closing all together, stopping particular services that may be very necessary to the community, and struggling to maintain quality of care.” Major hospital groups, including the American Hospital Association and representatives of children’s and psychiatric hospitals spoke out against the new legislation last week.
Amid vocal dissension within the Republican party over the potential ACA replacement plan, Trump administration officials sought to ramp up support for the GOP health bill on Sunday, according to The Washington Post. On NBC’s Meet the Press, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said, “We strongly support the plan,” and that it would bring coverage to more individuals without raising costs. “I firmly believe nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through.”