CMS may scrap hospital penalty for transplant death rates

CMS on Sept. 17 revealed a proposal to eliminate a measure that penalizes hospitals with increased instances of patient deaths after an organ transplant. 

Here are four things to know:

1. The proposal is part of the White House's efforts to eliminate regulations that prioritize paperwork over patients. CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the agency's existing policies have "put lives in danger," during a speech announcing the proposal last week.

"We are proposing to remove those inefficiencies to reduce the amount of time patients have to wait, so that they can begin healing," Ms. Verma said, according to ProPublica.

2. Many transplant physicians have endorsed less federal oversight for transplants, arguing the rules discourage hospitals from taking on risky patients or accepting unperfect organs to meet survival thresholds, which can extend patients' wait time for a transplant.

3. Some experts suggest the proposal would not help patients since it would limit the government's power to hold organ transplant programs accountable for providing quality patient care.

4. The regulation the Trump administration proposed to dissolve is the same rule that led CMS to cut funding for Houston-based Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center Aug. 17 after a joint investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle highlighted an outsized number of transplant patient deaths and complications in the last few years. St. Luke's appealed its Medicare termination with CMS Sept. 14.

"We do not believe CMS' recent decisions reflect our ongoing progress and accomplishments to improve the quality of our care," the hospital said in a statement cited by the Houston Chronicle

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