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ONLY ON 3: Despite paying for insurance, Medicare forces accident victim from hospital

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A motorcycle accident left a man with a broken leg. He needs supervision by doctors, but forget the hospital. He’s laid up in a hotel.

Tommy Ritch says he wants his old insurance back and is willing to pay more not to be on Medicare.

“I can’t be the only person in the United States that’s having problems like this,” Ritch said.

Ritch, 65, was put on Medicare at the beginning of September, although he had paid for his private insurance until October.

A woman hit Ritch on his motorcycle earlier this month and severely broke his leg. When ritch went the hospital, he was treated but told he had to go, because Medicare would not cover his extended stay for observation.

“The medical staff at the hospital insisted that I not be discharged, the medical staff. Then the administrative staff kept saying yes, I do need to be discharged,” Ritch said.

Doctors told Ritch his leg was too swollen to operate, so they had to wait. Medicare said he had to wait somewhere else.

“I don’t think somebody with a serious leg injury should be discharged, because medicare doesn’t want to pay for the hospital to keep you under observation,” Ritch said.

Ritch, who lives in Swansboro, relocated to a hotel near Cape Fear Memorial Hosptial on his own dime.

Now, he waits.

Ritch is worried, though, that complications from his injury may come up and will only get worse because he is not being cared for by medical staff.

He says he would much rather have continued to pay for his private insurance and be covered than be put on Medicare and take his chances.

We contacted a representative with Medicare about Ritch’s concerns. They said Ritch could contact Carolina Centers for Medical Excellence, which is contracted by Medicare to improve the program. The representative did not have any other information.

Ritch is scheduled to have surgery on his leg tonight at Cape Fear Memorial Hospital. He says he hopes he will get time to recover with medical supervision, but he’s not sure yet what will happen.

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