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Medicare Catch-22 is an assault on seniors

Ann Gillis paid a $7,100 rehabilitation bill after a stay at Milton Hospital, where she wasn’t considered an inpatient.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Ann Gillis paid a $7,100 rehabilitation bill after a stay at Milton Hospital, where she wasn’t considered an inpatient.

Seniors are again under assault as a result of a regulatory battle between Medicare administrators and hospitals (MANY ARE SNARED BY A DEVASTATING MEDICARE CATCH-22,” Page A1, Aug. 25).

Medicare administrators, in an attempt to control hospital costs and readmissions, will penalize hospitals if too many inpatients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge, or will demand refunds if an inpatient should have been classified as an outpatient. Hospitals, not to be caught by these rules, have begun to classify a growing number of patients as being hospitalized for “observation.” This results in the patient being personally responsible for many hospital costs and for rehabilitation or nursing home costs following a hospital stay. In many cases the seniors are unaware of how their status is classified and of the implications of that status until they receive bills for these services.

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Worse yet, after Oct. 1, hospitals will have the option of changing a patient’s status from inpatient to observation for up to a year after discharge.

This is an obscene game that’s being played out between Medicare and the hospitals, with seniors unknowingly caught in the middle. It should be STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. Our elected officials should be pressured to do something about it.

Thomas F. Joyce

Methuen

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