CMS proposes rule to streamline Medicare compliance

CMS Administrator Seema Verma speaks at a press event announcing a new rule aimed at reducing providers' administrative burden. (Paige Minemyer)

CMS took the latest step in its Patients over Paperwork initiative on Monday, issuing a proposed rule that would eliminate or update a slew of regulations deemed “unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome” on providers. 

Should the rule (PDF) be finalized, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that it would save providers $1.12 billion each year and eliminate millions of hours in administrative time. Through 2021, CMS projects $5.2 billion in total savings and 53 million hours of administrative burden eliminated. 

“We all know that, at times, regulations can get in the way of innovation and drive up costs,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said at a press event on Monday to mark the rule’s release. 

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RELATED: CMS rebrands Meaningful Use, reduces reporting measures 

Much of the rule focuses on streamlining CMS’ conditions of participation and conditions for coverage, which the agency says will allow providers to operate more fluidly and efficiently without impacting patient safety and care quality. Some of the key changes the rule proposes include: 

  • Allowing health systems to use an integrated quality assessment and improvement platform across all their member hospitals.
     
  • Creating a simpler process for providers to order portable X-ray machines and updating the requirements for portable X-ray technologists.
     
  • Easing requirements for hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers for conducting physicals and collecting patient histories ahead of procedures.
     
  • Eliminating a requirement for critical access hospitals to disclose people with a financial interest in the facility, as CMS also obtains that information outside of compliance with the conditions of participation. 

CMS spotlighted changes for organ transplant centers, which it says will cut wait times on transplant lists. Should the rule go into effect, transplant centers would no longer have to send outcomes, experience and other data to Medicare twice for approval. The “reapproval” process, CMS said, can lead organs to go unused as patients wait for transplants. 

RELATED: CMS plans Medicaid ‘red-tape’ rollback for states 

Many of the changes proposed in the rule were the result of CMS’ field trips to meet with providers and other stakeholders, alongside a request for information that drew nearly 3,000 comments, Verma said. 

The agency visited 21 sites, conducted close to 300 interviews with stakeholders, interviewed 97 experts and held 73 listening sessions en route to producing the rule, Verma said. 

CMS has addressed more than half (55%) of the 1,146 burden concerns raised in the RFI responses to date and is working on an additional 16%. It referred 29% of the issues to other agencies or declined to take action. 

Agencies across the Trump administration are taking aim at regulations following President Donald Trump’s call to cut red tape in 2017.