CMS Proposes Medicare Reforms to Save Hospitals $676M Per Year

HHS and CMS have issued a proposed rule (pdf) that would modify or eliminate Medicare regulations deemed to be unnecessary or obsolete — reforms the government expects will save hospitals and healthcare providers up to $676 million per year and $3.4 billion over five years.

"We are committed to cutting the red tape for healthcare facilities, including rural providers," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a news release. "By eliminating outdated or overly burdensome requirements, hospitals and healthcare professionals can focus on treating patients."

The following provisions were included within the proposed rule:

•    Qualified dietitians would be able to order patient diets and meals at hospitals without requiring the supervision of a physician or other practitioner, which will "free up time for physicians and other practitioners to care for patients," according to HHS.

•    Critical access hospitals would no longer need to develop patient care policies with the guidance of at least one member who is not a member of the CAH staff. The government said the old policy resulted in too much turnover, unnecessary pay for outside personnel and lost time.

•    CAHs would not have to require a physician to be onsite once every two weeks.

•    Ambulatory surgery centers currently must meet full hospital requirements for radiology services even though they are only allowed to provide limited radiology services. The rule proposes that ASCs only meet radiological requirements for services they actually perform.

•    Hospitals would no longer have to require a pharmacist or physician be present during off-hour deliveries of nuclear medicine tests.

Overall, CMS estimates one-time savings of $22 million and annual recurring savings of $654 million. "Several of the proposed changes would create measurable monetary savings for providers and suppliers, while others would create less tangible savings of time and administrative burden," according to the rule.

Public comments are due April 8.

More Articles on Hospitals and Medicare:

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The Year Ahead: 10 Challenges That Will Shape Hospital Strategy

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