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Codification of the Hospital 3-Day Payment Window

President Obama signed the “Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010.” The law includes a provision that clarifies Medicare’s position for payment of hospital outpatient services provided on either the day of or the three days prior to an inpatient admission. The 3-day payment window policy is effective for services provided on or after June 25, 2010. Medicare may not reopen claims submitted prior to June 25, 2010 to require a separate bill for outpatient non-diagnostic services.

The 3-day payment window, which has been unofficially followed by Medicare since 1991, allows a hospital to charge for all diagnostic services and non-diagnostic services “related” to the inpatient stay that are provided during the 3-day payment window.

The law defines “other services related to the admission” as including services that are not diagnostic services (other than ambulance and maintenance renal dialysis services) for which payment may be made by Medicare that are provided to a patient by a hospital: (1) on the date of the patient’s inpatient admission; (2) during the 3 days immediately prior to the date of admission, unless the hospital shows that the services provided were not related to the admission.

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