TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – In a move that supporters say could help prevent seniors from getting hit with unexpected medical bills, Gov. Rick Scott has signed a measure aimed at clearing up confusion when patients go from hospitals to nursing homes.

The bill deals with patients who are in hospitals under what is considered “observation status.” That status is different from being classified as an inpatient.

The status can be important for patients who move from hospitals to nursing homes, because Medicare only covers nursing-home care for people who have been hospital inpatients for three days, according to a House staff analysis.

Under the new law, hospitals will be required to provide notice in discharge papers to patients who are in “observation status.”

The Florida Health Care Association, a nursing-home industry group, praised the bill in a statement issued Thursday.

“This new law is an important step in providing transparency and protection for seniors so they can properly plan their care options,” said Emmett Reed, the association’s executive director.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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