KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Medicare’s Observation Care Policy More Likely To Affect Low-Income Seniors

A new study finds that low-income patients are more likely to be kept in the hospital under observation, and the higher out-of-pocket spending that accompanies not being officially admitted is a bigger burden for them. Also in the news, long-term care hospitals are pressing Medicare for a change that may cut their reimbursement rates.

Reuters: Poor Medicare Patients May Spend More On Hospital Stays
Out-of-pocket spending for hospital care by people with Medicare may be higher for those with lower incomes, because they’re more likely than wealthier Medicare beneficiaries to be kept in the hospital without being officially admitted, a new study suggests. Under Medicare, the government insurance program for the elderly and disabled, people admitted to the hospital pay a fixed out-of-pocket fee that covers the majority of their care there .... But people who aren’t sick enough for an inpatient admission may be kept in the hospital for observation, which not only carries a one-time out-of-pocket fee but also requires patients to pay 20 percent of the bills for hospital services and pick up the tab for certain drugs. The poorest people on Medicare had more hospitalizations for observation, researchers found. (Rapaport, 8/9)

Modern Healthcare: Hospitals Hope Trump's Pause Of A Medicare Reimbursement Cut Will Become Permanent 
Long-term care hospitals around the country are hopeful the Trump administration will permanently abolish a proposed policy that would dramatically reduce their Medicare reimbursement. The Trump administration said Aug. 2 that it will freeze the so-called 25% rule that dings Medicare reimbursement rates for hospitals for one year while it assesses whether the policy is needed. Under proposed rule, if more than a quarter of a long-term care hospital's patients come from a single acute-care hospital, the long-term care hospital would receive a reduced Medicare reimbursement rate for patients exceeding that threshold. (Dickson, 8/9)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.