CMS on Thursday kicked off a new initiative intended to reduce regulatory burdens on health care providers to allow them to spend more time on clinical tasks.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the initiative, called "Patients over Paperwork," during a stakeholder meeting with more than 30 industry groups, including the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
According to MedPage Today, the initiative will focus on reducing regulatory burdens on providers in an effort to improve patient care.
During the meeting, Verma noted that over the past five years, CMS has issued about 58 rules annually and providers have voiced frustration over new regulations. In particular, Verma said providers have been critical of the reporting metrics for electronic health records, saying "the burden associated with reporting quality measures outweighs their utility."
Verma said as part of the new initiative, CMS officials will travel across the United States to formally gather information on the burden CMS regulations have on physicians.
Verma told stakeholders they can expect to see CMS roll back regulations as early as this week, when the agency is expected to release a final rule implementing the second reporting year for MACRA, according to Modern Healthcare. Verma added that stakeholders can anticipate more information about the agency's efforts concerning "meaningful measurement[s]."
Industry stakeholders react
AAFP President Michael Munger said the initiative "comes at a critical time for our health care system," adding that the "volume of administrative and regulatory functions required of physicians is compounded by the lack of harmonization in these functions across payers."
Munger recommended CMS consider either eliminating or substantially rolling back prior authorizations on durable medical equipment (DME), diabetic supplies, and generic drugs. Munger said CMS should also harmonize regulations between Medicare and other payers, noting that on average a family physician has contractual relationships with seven or more payers, Modern Healthcare reports.
AHA CEO Rick Pollack said, "There is growing frustration for those on the front lines providing care in a system that often forces them to spend more time pushing paper rather than treating patients." Pollack noted several areas where CMS could scale back regulations, citing a new AHA report that found non-clinical regulations can cost providers about $39 billion annually and take clinicians away from patient care.
Pollack recommended CMS:
- Collaborate with the Office of the Inspector General to ensure audits are fair;
- Expand Medicaid benefits to cover telehealth services;
- Focus on prioritizing "measures that matter";
- Loosen fraud and abuse rules to ensure hospitals and physicians can form innovative care models; and
Reexamine minimum health and safety standards to be eligible to participate in Medicare (Firth, MedPage Today, 10/26; Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 10/26; AHA News, 10/26).
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