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What We're Reading: Medicare Observation Rules on Trial; California Charity Care; AAP Statement on Racism

AJMC Staff
A class-action trial begins Monday in Hartford, Connecticut seeking to end Medicare regulations around something called “observation care” in the hospital; California hospitals are providing significantly less free and discounted care to low-income patients because the Affordable Care Act reduced the number of uninsured patients; The American Academy of Pediatrics released its first policy statement about how racism affects the health and development of children and adolescents.

Class-Action Trial Seeks to Overturn Medicare "Observation" Regulations

A class-action trial begins Monday in Hartford, Connecticut seeking to end Medicare regulations around something called “observation care” in the hospital, Kaiser Health News reported. Patients receive observation care when their doctors think they are too sick to go home but not sick enough to be admitted. While they might be in the same hospital rooms, getting some of the same services and treatment as an admitted patient, observation care is considered an outpatient service under Medicare rules. As a result, observation patients are on the hook for a larger share of hospital bills and any nursing home or rehabilitative care will not be covered. A victory would clear the way for appeals from hundreds of thousands of people.

 

ACA Reduced Need for Charity Care Spending by California Hospitals

California hospitals are providing significantly less free and discounted care to low-income patients, California Healthline reported, because the Affordable Care Act reduced the number of uninsured patients. As a proportion of their operating expenses, the state’s general acute-care hospitals spent less than half on charity care patients in 2017 than they did in 2013, according to data the hospitals reported to the state. The biggest drop in charity care spending occurred from 2013 to 2015, when it dropped from just over 2% to just under 1%.

 

AAP Releases First Policy Statement on Racism in Health, Development of Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics released its first policy statement about how racism affects the health and development of children and adolescents. Maria Trent, MD, MPH, a professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and one of the co-authors of the statement, told The New York Times that racism not only affects those who are targeted but also those who witness it, calling it a “socially transmitted disease.” The statement delves into how racism is a core social determinant of health and drives health inequities.

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