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Reforms to Medicare Regulations Would Save Healthcare Providers $676 Million Annually Under Proposed Rule

February 4, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Reforms to Medicare regulations identified as unnecessary, obsolete, or excessively burdensome on hospitals and healthcare providers would save nearly $676 million annually, and $3.4 billion over five years, through a rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services (CMS). The proposed rule supports President Barack Obama’s call on federal agencies to modify, streamline regulations on business.

“We are committed to cutting the red tape for healthcare facilities, including rural providers,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “By eliminating outdated or overly burdensome requirements, hospitals and healthcare professionals can focus on treating patients.”

The proposed rule is designed to help healthcare providers to operate more efficiently by getting rid of regulations that are out of date or no longer needed. Many of the rule’s provisions streamline the standards healthcare providers must meet in order to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs without jeopardizing beneficiary safety.

For example, a key provision reduces the burden on very small critical access hospitals, as well as rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers, by eliminating the requirement that a physician be held to an excessively prescriptive schedule for being onsite once every two weeks. This provision seeks to address the geographic barriers and remoteness of many rural facilities, and recognize telemedicine improvements and expansions that allow physicians to provide many types of care at lower costs, while maintaining high-quality care.  

Among other provisions, the proposed rule would:

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

As part of President Obama’s regulatory reform initiative, CMS issued final rules in May last year that also reduce burdensome or unnecessary regulations for hospitals and additional healthcare providers. Those rules are saving nearly $1.1 billion across the healthcare system in the first year and more than $5 billion over five years.



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