Under a federal law passed last summer, hospitals may need to provide written and oral notification to Medicare patients placed in observation status as early as August 2016. Unfortunately, the federal rulemaking process may leave little time for hospitals to implement the requirements once the specific requirements are known. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet released its proposed rule for comment.
Though the formal comment period has not yet begun, the American Hospital Association provided CMS with recommendations the proposed rule. Among the recommendations:
- That CMS extend the effective date to six months from the date the final rules are issued in order to provide hospitals with sufficient opportunity to modify their systems and train staff. AHA also recommended CMS modify the enforcement provisions under the Act. Currently hospitals could face termination of their Medicare agreement if they are unable to comply in time.
- That hospitals be given greater flexibility regarding which staff can provide the oral notification to patients and that there be greater flexibility for hospital staff to attest the notification was given in cases where the patient is unable to sign the notification.
WSHA supports the AHA recommendations and will provide additional information to members and comments to CMS once the proposed rule is released.