The Department of Health and Human Services is looking to eliminate certain obsolete Medicare regulations, including the requirement that physicians be on site once every two weeks at some very small hospitals, rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers in a move it said would save hospitals and other healthcare providers an estimated $676 million a year, or $3.4 billion over five years and allow greater efficiency without jeopardizing safety for the Medicare program's elderly and disabled beneficiaries.
The new proposals regarding the rules for hospitals that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients were developed in response to President Obama’s call on all Federal agencies to eliminate burdensome and unnecessary regulations.
“The President and I have challenged agencies to hunt down burdensome regulations,” said Vice President Joe Biden. “Today’s steps will remove outdated, duplicative, unnecessaryburdens on hospitals - saving money and improving care.”
"We are committed to cutting the red tape for healthcare facilities, including rural providers," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "By eliminating outdated or overly burdensome requirements, hospitals and health care professionals can focus on treating patients," she added.
Among the other changes, the Obama administration would allow registered dietitians to order patient diets without a physician's approval, and hospital nuclear technicians to prepare certain medicines without the supervision of a doctor or pharmacist.
In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that new regulatory reforms would update the rules for hospitals that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients -- the Medicare Conditions of Participation. As an example, the proposed reforms would consolidate patient care plans such as allowing registered dietitians to order patient diets without a physician's approval, and hospital nuclear technicians to prepare certain medicines without the supervision of a doctor or pharmacist.
A second set of reforms address regulatory requirements for providers other than hospitals and could save up to $200 million in the first year. The rule would identify and begin to eliminate duplicative, overlapping, outdated, and conflicting regulatory requirements for healthcare providers and suppliers such as end-stage renal disease facilities and durable medical equipment suppliers. Examples of these reforms include updating obsolete e-prescribing technical requirements to meet current standards and eliminating other out-of-date and overly prescriptive requirements for healthcare providers.
CMS is also finalizing a third rule that reduces regulatory burden for ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), which is expected to save ASCs $50 million per year. This rule makes common-sense changes to the requirements ASCs must follow in order to meet Medicare and Medicaid health and safety standards.
The move was especially welcomed by Rich Umbendenstock, president of the The American Hospital Association, who stated that.” Hospitals are delivering more coordinated, patient-centered care and (the administration) should not let antiquated organizational structures stand in the way.” However, he did add that they were disappointed the administration did not allow "hospitals in multi-hospital systems" to have single integrated medical staff structures.
Readers can view the proposed and final rules, please visit: www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx.
In addition, the US Department of Health & Human Services invites the public, including doctors, hospitals, patient advocates, and other stakeholders, to voice they own opinions regarding the changes above by visiting www.regulations