CMS proposed payment rule aims to ease regulatory burden

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a proposed rule that would adjust its Medicare payment policies for inpatient hospital admissions.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a new proposed rule that would adjust the 2018 Medicare payment policies for patient hospital admissions in an effort to reduce the regulatory burden on providers.

The rule (PDF), if finalized, would impact more than 3,300 acute care hospitals and about 420 long-term care hospitals, with discharges on or after Oct. 1 affected. CMS projects that under the proposed rule, due to a combination of payment adjustments and rate increases, hospitals would see an inpatient operating payments increase of about 2.9% for fiscal year 2018.

Payments to long-term hospitals would likely decrease by about 3.75% under the proposal.

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CMS would also pay out about $7 billion to disproportionate share hospitals in fiscal year 2017, an increase of about $1 billion that reflects changes to how the agency would calculate the payments. DSH payments would be adjusted to reflect data from its National Health Expenditure Accounts, which would be used to estimate changes in uninsured rates.

In addition to payment changes, CMS is also seeking proposals from providers and industry experts on ways to streamline oversight and reduce regulations. The goal is to devise new programs that foster transparency, flexibility, innovation and program simplification for providers.

“We would like to start a national conversation about improving the healthcare delivery system,” a CMS fact sheet on the proposed rule states.

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CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in an announcement that easing the regulatory burden allows providers to focus on their ultimate goal: better patient care.

“Through this proposed rule we want to reduce burdens for hospitals so they can focus on providing high quality care for patients,” Verma said. “Medicare is better able to support the work of dedicated hospitals and clinicians who provide the care that people need with these more flexible and simplified approaches.”

As CMS continues to evaluate its regulations, it has proposed a one-year regulatory moratorium on its payment policies threshold. Another strategy the agency hopes will reduce the regulatory burden is to cut back on clinical quality reporting measures required for hospitals that have electronic health records in place.