What are Medicaid Beds?

Contrary to what you might be thinking, a Medicaid bed isn’t technically something you sleep in. Rather, it refers to a “bed-hold” policy, which means that certain nursing home residents be returned to their beds if they are temporarily absent from the facility.

The Nursing Home Reform Act gives residents who qualify for Medicaid benefits what are known as “Bed-Hold and Readmission” rights. However, those rights do not extend to Medicare beneficiaries. What this means is that people who receive Medicaid and are required to leave the facility for hospitalization or therapeutic reasons have the right to return, and the nursing home must hold that person’s bed for a certain period of time. However, should the absence extend the bed-hold period, and if the person still needs skilled or intermediate nursing care services, he or she is entitled to the first available bed in a semi-private room at the facility.

Both federal and state law and regulations require nursing facilities to give written information to the elder and family members that details the facility’s policy on bed-holding under the State Medicaid plan. Although, this isn’t normally the case for those whose care is reimbursed by Medicare; they may be required to pay bed-hold fees that have been put into place by the facility.

What this means is that people who are insured by Medicare, aren’t protected. But you have a couple of choices if you are in this situation. You can either 1). Pay the daily rate to retain the bed or 2). Take the chance that you can find a bed elsewhere once your loved one is covered by Medicaid—something that is becoming more and more difficult.

No matter your position or situation, however, it is advisable to consult an elder law attorney in your area for help. This is because the best options may vary from state to state based on local circumstances.