It has been a very busy and exciting week for the staff and residents of Vernon Manor Health Care & Rehabilitation Center. We were selected as the site of a highly important federal legislative announcement that has major implications for skilled nursing residents and their families across the United States.

On Monday, March 23, The Honorable Joseph D. Courtney, U.S. Congressman from Connecticut, was at Vernon Manor to announce his Congressional bill on access to Medicare funds for skilled nursing care. Joining Congressman Courtney for the announcement were Judith Stein, founder and current Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy; Paul Liistro, CEO of Arbors of Hop Brook, which includes Vernon Manor Health Care Center; and Nancy Renshaw, a Bozrah resident whose family footed more than $10,000 in medical bills after her father-in-law suffered a fall and was under “observation” in the hospital for four days.

Fixing the Medicare Funding Gap for Needed Skilled Nursing Care

With the media in attendance, Congressman Courtney discussed the reintroduction of the landmark Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2015. He explained that the purpose of this bipartisan bill is to fix a coverage gap in Medicare that leaves Medicare beneficiaries on the hook to pay out-of-pocket for skilled nursing care following a hospital stay. In recent years, the number of “observation” stays in the hospital has multiplied, and because days spent in the hospital under observation do not count toward the three-day minimum stay to qualify for skilled nursing coverage, many patients are left to foot the bill.

As a result of lacking the coverage for prescribed skilled nursing care, Medicare beneficiaries and their families can face tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs — or disregard doctors’ orders, and attempt to recover at home without the necessary medical care. Congressman Courtney’s bill would eliminate this coverage gap by counting all days spent in the hospital — whether under observation or formally admitted — toward the three-day minimum to qualify for Medicare coverage of prescribed follow-on care.

Commenting on the Congressman’s much-needed legislation, Mr. Liistro said, “Not only is Congressman Courtney’s bill the right thing to do, it also would put an immediate halt to the enormous cost shift that happens in states’ Medicaid budgets when federal Medicare beneficiaries are denied access to reimbursement, leaving state taxpayers picking up the tab. I’m grateful to him for fighting for the rights of those who need these benefits.”

Kristi Dougherty, RN, BSN, MSM, MBA Administrator of Vernon Manor Health Care Center, added, “It was a great honor to host Congressman Courtney and his staff for the announcement of this vital bill – one that all of us at Vernon Manor strongly believe in and will continue to actively support. In addition to providing senior adults with the very best in post-hospital rehabilitation and long-term care, it is also our goal to promote better access to that care by supporting legislative initiatives such as this that relieve the financial burden on families by making the necessary funding available.”

Rep. Courtney’s legislation was also lauded by The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said, “This bipartisan measure will help fix a confusing policy that continues to leave our nation’s seniors hanging in uncertainty regarding their access to the Medicare coverage they deserve. Congressman Courtney is an advocate for seniors and those individuals who need skilled nursing care. We applaud his efforts and continued support.”

The Association also continues to support legislation eliminating the three-day stay requirement, which, if passed, would effectively solve the related issue of observation stays. Recently, the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility (NOTICE) Act, which ensures hospitals notify patients of their status, was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. A related bill called the Creating Access to Rehabilitation for Every Senior (CARES) Act would eliminate the three-day inpatient stay requirement by allowing centers that meet particular criteria to automatically qualify for a waiver of the prior hospitalization requirement.

Experience State-of-the-Art Post-Hospital Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care at Its Best

Located in Vernon, CT, Vernon Manor has proudly served the communities of Hartford and Tolland Counties for nearly 40 years, earning a highly respected reputation for delivering outstanding quality care, successful outcomes and exceptional service for our patients, residents and their families. We provide a proven rehabilitation program to enable patients to continue on their path to recovery. For loved ones who require 24-hour nursing support, compassionate long-term care for loved ones who require 24-hour nursing support.

Rebuild. Recover. Renew.

Vernon Manor’s Recover Right Post-Hospital Rehabilitation program provides you with all the support, expertise and encouragement you need to achieve a full recovery and a speedy return home.

For more information on Recover Right Post-Hospital Rehabilitation or long-term care – or to schedule an informative tour at your convenience – please contact Annette Dudarewicz our Director of Admissions at (860) 858-5010 or contact us online.