Critcal Path Network

Watch for Medicare discharge notice change

CMS issuing a revised Important Message notice

Beginning on July 1, hospitals will be required to give Medicare patients a notice of their right to appeal their discharge within two days of admission, answer any questions, and then obtain the signature of the patient or his or her representative.

If the date that the notice is signed is more than two calendar days before discharge, the hospital must give the patient a signed copy of the notice two days before discharge.

The requirements are part of the final rule, Notification of Hospital Discharge Appeal Rights, issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in November.

When the final rule takes effect, hospitals will be able to use a revised form of the Important Message from Medicare (IM) notice to explain discharge rights instead of having to create a new notice. CMS already requires hospitals to provide the Important Message to Medicare patients who are hospitalized.

CMS announced its intention to develop the revised IM documents in the next several months and to seek public comments in preparation for the July 1 implementation.

In the final rule, CMS announced its intention to include information about the discharge planning process in the revised IM and to encourage beneficiaries to talk to their physician or hospital staff if they have any concerns about discharge.

The discharge notice is required for both original Medicare beneficiaries and those who are enrolled in Medicare health plans.

If patients requests a review by the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) of the hospital's or Medicare health plan's determination that inpatient care is no longer necessary, the hospital or health plan must give the patient a more detailed notice.

In the final rule, CMS backed away from its initial proposal to require hospitals to submit a second notice of a patient's discharge appeal rights 24 hours before discharge, after receiving about 500 comments from professional associations, hospitals, health care professionals, state and national hospital associations, and managed care organizations.