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Observation Status

By Fran Trelease

Good news for seniors requiring hospital stays: Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy signed into law an “observation status” bill, HB 5535, that requires hospitals to tell patients whether their stay is classified as “observation status” or as traditional inpatient.

This distinction is important. The legislation, which takes effect October 1, 2014 and is supported by AARP-CT, empowers patients by making them aware of those hospital health care costs that will be passed on to them, and those that will be covered by Medicare. Patients admitted under “observation status” face lower Medicare reimbursements, and therefore higher out-of-pocket costs.  Any senior using traditional fee-for-service Medicare is affected by this classification.   

Deb Migneault, senior policy analyst for Connecticut’s Legislative Commission on Aging, says that under Medicare benefit rules, patients on observation status are considered “outpatient” and do not have access to the same Medicare benefits as someone considered “inpatient.”

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