On July 28, 2015, the Senate unanimously passed the NOTICE Act. This legislation was introduced by Congressmen Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35) and Todd Young (R-IN-9) in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. The NOTICE Act will require hospitals to notify Medicare beneficiaries of their outpatient status within 36 hours. Outpatient status affects a patient’s ability to receive Medicare coverage for post-acute care in a skilled nursing center.
This Act amends the title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to require a hospital or critical access hospital with an agreement with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to give each individual who receives observation services as an outpatient for more than 24 hours an adequate oral and written notification within 36 hours after beginning to receive them which:
- explains the individual’s status as an outpatient and not as an inpatient and the reasons why;
- explains the implications of that status on services furnished (including those furnished as an inpatient), in particular the implications for cost-sharing requirements and subsequent coverage eligibility for services furnished by a skilled nursing facility;
- includes appropriate additional information;
- is written and formatted using plain language and made available in appropriate languages; and
- is signed by the individual or a person acting on the individual’s behalf (representative) to acknowledge receipt of the notification, or if the individual or representative refuses to sign, the written notification is signed by the hospital staff who presented it.
With the full Senate approval, the legislation now gets sent to the President to be signed into law.