WSJ report spurs House oversight of hospital accreditation processes

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is seeking information from CMS and four accreditation agencies, including The Joint Commission, to ensure their accreditation processes for hospitals in the Medicare and Medicaid programs follow federal standards and ensure patient safety.

Representatives sent letters to The Joint Commission, the Bureau of Healthcare Facilities Accreditation, the Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality and DNV GL Healthcare. The oversight is a direct response to a September 2017 article published by The Wall Street Journal that found The Joint Commission rarely revokes its seal of approval when hospitals are not compliant with Medicare regulations.

The report found 350 Joint Commission hospitals violated Medicare requirements in 2014, and more than one-third had additional violations in 2015 and 2016. More than 30 hospitals were able to keep their accreditation.

"Although CMS has worked to strengthen its oversight of [accrediting organizations], the committee is concerned about the adequacy of CMS' oversight as well as the rigor of the AO survey process," the letter to CMS reads. "For example, according to CMS' most recent annual report to Congress, in [fiscal year] 2015, AOs conducting hospital surveys did not report 39 percent of 'condition level' deficiencies that were subsequently reported following validation surveys conducted by State Survey Agencies no later than 60 days following the AO survey."

The committee is seeking information on contracts between the AOs and CMS, complaints, correspondence about adverse events, and disparities between AO and state surveys, performance reviews and corrective actions, among other items.

 

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