CMS releases final rule to reduce administrative burden, including change on transplant centers

A female doctor is looking at her watch
A final rule aimed at reducing administrative burden will save providers an estimated 4.4 million hours of time previously spent on paperwork, says CMS. (Getty/thomasandreas)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday released a final rule to reduce administrative burdens on providers, including a change for transplant centers.

The rule, which expands on CMS’ Patients over Paperwork effort to reduce the administrative burden on providers, is a wide-ranging rule that includes changes to transplant center requirements, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a press call.

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For instance, the rule finalizes changes to transplant center regulations that CMS says will increase access to life-saving organ transplants by eliminating the requirement for centers to submit clinical experience, outcomes, and other data in order to obtain Medicare re-approval. 

The rule, intended to cut back on needless paperwork, will take effect 60 days after publication and includes changes that apply to hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, hospices, and other settings. Verma said the rule will save providers $800 million each year and save them an estimated 4.4 million hours previously spent on paperwork.

She also announced that CMS is in the process of setting up an office of burden reduction, to continue the effort to cut paperwork and allow providers to focus on the care of patients. Staff members are already working on the effort, although formalizing the new office will take some time, she said.

Some of the changes that Verma noted in the rule include:

  • Allowing ambulatory surgery centers to determine which patients need a new history and physical exam prior to a procedure.
  • Allowing smaller hospitals that are part of a larger health system to forgo creating a duplicative Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement program. It will also allow multi-hospital systems to have a single, unified and integrated infection control and antibiotic stewardship program for all of their member hospitals.
  • Eliminating the requirement healthcare organizations conduct an annual review of their emergency preparedness plans. The exception is for nursing homes.
  • Updating the requirements for hospitals to have infection prevention and control and antibiotic stewardship programs. Those must be not only active and facility-wide, but also demonstrate adherence to nationally recognized guidelines to prevent hospital-acquired infections, as well as best practices for the optimization of antibiotic use through stewardship in order to effectively reduce the development and transmission of antibiotic-resistant organisms.

Verma said the rule addresses 80% of the changes that providers suggested as part of a request for information from CMS soliciting ideas.

The rule actually finalizes the provisions of three separate proposed rules.

CMS released a fact sheet on the Omnibus Burden Reduction rule, which summarizes many of the changes in the regulations.