Category Medicare

Nearly 50 Years of Legal Discrimination

capitolIn Tuesday’s Expert Perspective, Mark Covall discussed Medicare’s 190-day limit for inpatient care for mental illness. Today, we offer a bit of background on this confounding—and life-threatening—limit.

Fear and Politics

Eliminating the 190-day lifetime limit on has been on the stove—albeit not the front burner—for more than two decades.

The limitation originated in the Social Security Act of 1965, when Medicare came into being. In 1965, people feared mental illness; they were biased against psychiatric hospitals and those who received care there. Combined with political strife over whether the states or the federal government should bear the costs of that care, this bias could explain the arbitrary and discriminatory limit.

Despite numerous changes in mental health care administration, medical practice, insurance, and—arguably most important—perceptions and understanding of mental health conditions, the 190-day lifetime limit persists.

And to get rid of it, there needs to be a change to federal law.

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Poll: Reaching the 190-Day Limit

In yesterday’s Expert Perspective, Mark Covall called Medicare’s 190-day lifetime limit on inpatient psychiatric hospital services “arbitrary and medically irresponsible.”

Today, we want to hear from you! To better understand how the 190-day limit affects you and those you love, we want to know:

 

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Vote in the poll and share your personal experiences in the comments below!

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Arbitrary and Medically Irresponsible: The 190-Day Limit

Mark J. Covall
President and CEO, National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems

Medicare denies specialty inpatient care for mental illness but not any other medical condition.

stockvault-stop-sign103079Over the past few years, we’ve made great strides in eliminating barriers to mental health treatment. In 2008, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires private insurers to cover mental health and addiction treatment at the same level as other medical disorders.

However, lawful discrimination against mental illnesses still exists for seniors and disabled adults who receive benefits through Medicare.

That’s because Medicare beneficiaries have a lifetime limit of 190 days of inpatient psychiatric hospital care. There is no such lifetime limit for any other Medicare specialty inpatient hospital service.

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