Medicare officials are now allowing patients at dozens of hospitals participating in pilot projects to be exempted from the requirement that limits nursing home coverage to seniors admitted to a hospital for at least three days. These new experiments are being conducted to find out whether new payment arrangements with hospitals and other providers that drop the three-day rule can reduce costs or keep them the same while improving care. The experiments are being conducted under a provision of the ACA which also created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations to develop ways of improving Medicare.
If these experiments are successful, the tests will be expanded, according to Medicare officials. If patients can receive care while spending less time in the hospital, it can free up valuable resources for sicker patients and save money for Medicare because nursing home care and home health care is much cheaper than a hospital stay. Medicare’s three-day hospital admission rule has been a burden to seniors who don’t qualify for nursing home coverage because they were in the hospital under observation care rather than being admitted.
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