Monday, January 13, 2014
Sen. Brown Joins Dr. Campbell to Launch Bill
MetroHealth played host to one in 100 on Monday, as Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a press conference at the main campus.
"Thank you, first of all, (for) what Metro does for this community," Sen. Brown began. "Metro is such a crucial, important institution for our city and for our region, our state and our county. Thank you for the terrific work that this hospital does, especially for people that wouldn't have care otherwise."
The senator was there to speak on behalf of his legislation, the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act
, which would allow the time patients spend under "observation status" to count toward the requisite three-day hospital stay required for Medicare coverage of skilled nursing care.
It would also contain a retroactive feature, establishing a 90-day appeal period for those that have a qualifying hospital stay yet were denied skilled nursing care after January 1, 2013.
"Metro is a very strong advocate for any of the senior health service advances that are occurring," Dr. James Campbell, Director of Geriatric Health at MetroHealth, said. "Any time we can have a politician help us and take away an administrative burden that was getting in the way of the doctor taking care of the patient based on their clinical needs, I'd say it's a good thing."
Dr. Akram Boutros, President and CEO of The MetroHealth System, was in attendance. He spoke with Sen. Brown after the conference's conclusion.
"This is really about focusing on what patients' needs are," Dr. Boutros said. "We have a lot of rules and regulations to make sure we are in budgetary control, but at the end of the day, the senator has it right. He's focusing on how to deliver care to the people who need it and not make them go through one loophole or another. Really, these folks at this time in their life deteriorate whatever life savings they have."
Dr. Campbell said that patients are placed in "observation status" because they might get well enough to go home, but they shouldn't be punished when they don't recover. Nor should hospitals be put in a situation where they are pressured toward putting patients in "inpatient" status simply to increase their odds of coverage. Dr. Campbell stressed the importance of changing the regulation.
"This regulatory piece was sort of getting in the way of giving the patients the care they needed," Dr. Campbell said in a separate interview. "It's sort of funny because actually in this case, removing the regulation will make the care safer, better, more clinically directed and actually less expensive."
On Monday, he spoke to the promise of Sen. Brown's bill.
"What this bill does is allows the doctor to focus on the clinical need of the patient as opposed to having to focus on some bureaucratic rule about, 'Well, you have to be at this level of care versus that level of care in order to get this reimbursement or that reimbursement,'" Dr. Campbell said. "If the person is in the hospital being taken care of, that's what should matter."
Dr. Campbell, who Senator Brown referred to as "a longtime friend," was a big part of why the press conference was held at MetroHealth, according to Dr. Boutros.
"It's a recognition of Dr. Jim Campbell and his senior care program and what they've meant to the cutting edge of health care for the elderly and it's really a recognition of Jim and the MetroHealth family," Dr. Boutros said. "It has very little to do with the president of the hospital."
June Gold, an 84-year-old who nearly missed out on Medicare coverage despite spending five days in the hospital, including a blood transfusion for extreme blood loss, spoke about her experience. She admitted she was lucky to wind up at Menorah Park, whose administrator, Richard Schwalberg, introduced her Monday.
"There are not Menorah Parks in every community that stand up the way they do and provide that kind of care and there aren't Metros in every community," Sen. Brown said. "When you think what would have been if they hadn't been able to step up because of this whole idea of classification from observation status, it obviously mattered."