CMS says it wants to cut red tape for docs. It just created an 'Office of Burden Reduction'

Doctor computer
CMS has created a new office that will focus on decreasing the hours and costs clinicians and providers incur for CMS-mandated compliance, the agency said. (Getty/andrei_r)

The Trump administration is creating a new office to focus on reducing health providers' regulatory and administrative burdens.

The new Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is an outgrowth of the agency’s Patients over Paperwork initiative launched three years ago CMS said in a press release Tuesday. That initiative focuses on eliminating duplicative, unnecessary and excessively costly requirements and regulations.

CMS said it wants to permanently embed a culture of burden reduction across all platforms of agency operations.

"The Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics will ensure the agency’s commitment to reduce administrative costs and enact meaningful and lasting change in our nation’s health care system,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement.

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The work of the new office will be targeted to help reduce unnecessary burden, increase efficiencies, continue administrative simplification, increase the use of health informatics, and improve the beneficiary experience, Verma said.

The new office will advance CMS’ efforts across Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Health Insurance Marketplace to decrease the hours and costs clinicians and providers incur for CMS-mandated compliance, the agency said.

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It will also increase the number of clinicians, providers and health plans CMS engages to ensure the agency has a better understanding of how various regulatory burdens impact healthcare delivery.

With a focus on health informatics, the dedicated office also will work to foster innovation through interoperability. It will take the lead on using technology and automation to create new tools that allow patients to own and carry their personal health data with them throughout the health care system, CMS said.

In March, CMS enacted new regulations to promote greater data exchange among healthcare providers and ensure patients will have access to their medical records and claims data on the device of their choosing, such as their smartphone.

According to CMS, the agency's burden reduction work has removed unnecessary, obsolete or burdensome conditions of participation for hospitals and other health providers saving an estimated 4.4 million hours previously spent on paperwork with an overall total projected savings to providers of $800 million annually.

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CMS also has eliminated reporting 79 measures, resulting in projected savings of $128 million and an anticipated reduction of 3.3 million burden hours through 2020.

The agency's work to reduce physician burden is expected to save providers and clinicians $6.6 billion and 42 million unnecessary burden hours through 2021.

CMS also has taken steps to give health providers some relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, including granting them exceptions to reporting requirements and extensions for reporting measures and data.