50 Wishes for
Medicare’s Future

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Wish #36:
Do away with the three-day stay required for skilled nursing facility care

Medicare will only cover a beneficiary’s medically necessary stay in a skilled nursing facility if that person is first an inpatient in a hospital for three days—a rule established in 1965 when Medicare was first created. This outdated requirement precludes Medicare from covering medically necessary care in a facility even if returning home would be unsafe. Congress should reevaluate the three-day hospital stay requirement, particularly given advances in care that have reduced the length of hospital stays since the law’s passage.