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New CMS Rule Aims to Reform Medicare Requirements

Move estimated to save healthcare providers $676 million annually (Feb. 4)

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), 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 5 years through a rule proposed by the CMS on Feb. 4.

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rule is designed to help healthcare providers to operate more efficiently by getting rid of regulations that are out of date or no longer needed.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 on 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 2 weeks. This provision addresses the geographic barriers and remoteness of many rural facilities, and recognizes 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, the CMS says.
  • 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 federal oversight.

Sources: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; February 4, 2013; and Office of the Federal Register; February 1, 2013.

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