That legislation also included a six-month delay in implementation of the "two-midnights" rule, which is strongly opposed by hospitals. That rule says admitting physicians must have good reason to believe that a patient will need two nights in the hospital before Medicare will pay full inpatient rates for the stay. Lacking such documentation, Medicare auditors will generally classify the stay as outpatient observation, which pays hospitals much less and sticks the patient with a 20% copayment. The AHA and several state hospital associations have filed a pair of lawsuits challenging the rule.
Brady indicated that finding a permanent fix to the two-midnight rule would also be a priority for the House moving forward. "The time for regulatory relief on the two-midnight debacle is now," he said.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, also addressed the gathering Tuesday, touted a new Gallup poll that found the number of respondents indicating that they lacked insurance coverage had dropped to 13.4%—the lowest level since the polling firm started asking the question in 2008—as evidence that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is working.
"This is an incredible trend and much more impactful than the numbers can possibly convey," said Jarrett, whose resume includes serving on the board of the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Jarrett also called for swift confirmation by the Senate of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as HHS secretary. Burwell faces her first committee hearing Thursday. She was named to replace Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her resignation last month.
In addition, Jarrett called on hospitals to pressure states that have not expanded Medicaid, as authorized under the ACA, to do so. Roughly half the states have expanded Medicaid eligibility to individuals who make up to 138% of the federal poverty threshold.
"Honestly, we need your help on this front," Jarrett said. "You could be our strongest advocates in the states that have yet to expand."
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