If you believe you're being discharged from a hospital too soon, you have the right to immediate review by the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) in your area.
Within 2 days of your admission, you should get a notice called "An Important Message from Medicare about Your Rights" (sometimes called the Important Message from Medicare or the IM). If you don't get this notice, ask for it. This notice lists the QIO's contact information and explains:
- Your right to get all medically necessary hospital services
- Your right to be involved in any decisions that the hospital, your doctor, or anyone else makes about your hospital services and to know who will pay for them
- Your right to get the services you need after you leave the hospital
- Your right to appeal a discharge decision and the steps for appealing the decision
- The circumstances under which you will or won’t have to pay for charges for continuing to stay in the hospital
- Information on your right to get a detailed notice about why your covered services are ending
If the hospital gives you the IM more than 2 days before your discharge day, it must either give you a copy of your original, signed IM or provide you with a new one (that you must sign) before you’re discharged.
How do I ask for a fast appeal?
You may have the right to ask the QIO for a fast appeal. Follow the directions on the IM to request a fast appeal if you think your Medicare-covered hospital services are ending too soon. You must ask for a fast appeal no later than the day you're scheduled to be discharged from the hospital.
If you ask for your appeal within this time frame, you can stay in the hospital without paying for your stay (except for applicable coinsurance or deductibles) while you wait to get the decision from the QIO.
If you miss the deadline for a fast appeal, you can still ask the QIO to review your case, but different rules and time frames apply.
What will happen during the QIO's review?
When the QIO gets your request within the fast appeal time frame, it will notify the hospital. Then, the hospital will give you a "Detailed Notice of Discharge" by noon of the day after the QIO notifies the hospital. The notice will include:
- Why your services are no longer reasonable and necessary, or are no longer covered
- A description of the applicable Medicare coverage rule or policy, including information on how you can get a copy of the Medicare policy
- How the applicable coverage rule or policy applies to your specific situation
The QIO will look at your medical information provided by the hospital and will also ask you for your opinion. The QIO will decide if you're ready to be discharged within one day of getting the requested information.
If the QIO decides that you're being discharged too soon, Medicare will continue to cover your hospital stay as long as medically necessary (except for applicable coinsurance or deductibles).
If the QIO decides that you're ready to be discharged and you met the deadline for requesting a fast appeal, you won't be responsible for paying the hospital charges (except for applicable coinsurance or deductibles) incurred through noon of the day after the QIO gives you its decision. If you get any inpatient hospital services after noon of that day, you may have to pay for them.