Healthcare News & Insights

Proposed rule reforms Medicare regulations, saves hospitals major cash

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), are trying to make life easier for hospitals. They’ve recently issued a proposed rule that would alter or eliminate Medicare regulations that are unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome on hospitals and healthcare providers.

The proposed rule, which supports President Obama’s initiative for federal agencies to modify regulations on business, is predicted to save nearly $676 million annually and $3.4 billion over five years.

“We are committed to cutting the red tape for healthcare facilities, including rural providers,” said Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, in a news release.

Streamline standards

The goal is to help hospitals and healthcare providers operate more efficiently by streamlining standards providers must meet in order to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

One of the  key provision of the proposed rule reduces the burden on very small critical access hospitals, as well as rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers. It does this by eliminating the requirement that a physician be physically on-site at least once every two weeks. This provision recognize the improvements telemedicine has made by allowing physicians to provide lower-cost care, while maintaining quality of care.

Other provisions

Some of the other provisions in the proposed rule are:

  • Permitting registered dietitians to order patient diets independently, without requiring the supervision or approval of a physician or other practitioner. This would save hospitals significant resources, because it frees up time for physicians and other practitioners to care for patients.
  • Eliminating unnecessary requirements that ambulatory surgical centers must meet in order to provide radiological services that are an integral part of their surgical procedures, allowing them greater flexibility for physician supervision requirements.
  • Letting trained nuclear medicine technicians in hospitals prepare radiopharmaceuticals for nuclear medicine without the supervising physician or pharmacist constantly being present, which helps speed services to patients, particularly during off hours, and
  • Eliminating a redundant data submission requirement and an unnecessary survey process for transplant centers while maintaining strong federal oversight.

Public comments on the rule are due April 8.

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