There is a lot of focus today on health care costs, and what can be done to contain them. One sure-fire strategy? Reduce the regulatory burden that is drowning providers in red tape and adding costs to the system.

A report we commissioned last year found that non-clinical regulatory requirements cost hospitals, health systems and post-acute care providers nearly $39 billion a year. For an average-sized community hospital, this equates to $7.6 million a year, or $1,200 every time a patient is admitted to a hospital. These regulations not only increase costs, but also divert clinicians’ valuable time from patient care.

Fortunately, leaders in Congress and the Administration are listening. 

Leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee this week shared with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recommendations to further alleviate Medicare-related administrative and regulatory burdens for hospitals, post-acute care providers and physicians. The recommendations were part of the committee’s “Medicare Red Tape Relief Project.”

The AHA and our members have been working with the committee over the past year in letters, meetings and hearings as it assessed ways to improve patient care and reduce unnecessary burden on hospitals and providers. Among our concerns that the Committee addressed in its recommendations:

  • Conditions of Participation. The committee asked CMS to “work with hospitals to evaluate the implementation of various CoPs for the purpose of amending, streamlining, or eliminating” some burdensome or outdated CoPs.
  • Co-location. The committee echoed AHA’s call to implement “flexible guidelines regarding co-location arrangements.”
  • Star Ratings. The committee heard AHA’s concerns with the program, and pointed out these concerns to CMS.
  • Meaningful Measures. The committee detailed ways CMS’s Meaningful Measures program has improved and urged continued improvements along the lines AHA suggested.
  • 25 Percent Rule. The committee cited the “restrictive and burdensome” nature of the long-term care hospital 25% Rule, which CMS took steps to eliminate this summer.
  • Stark Law Reform. The committee applauded the agency’s recent request for information on needed changes to modernize the Stark law and described the concerns of the hospital field.

We’ve been pleased with many of the steps CMS has taken this year, such as the aforementioned Meaningful Measures initiative, the elimination of the 25% Rule and seeking provider feedback on the Star Ratings. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the Administration on our shared goal of putting patients first and reducing regulatory burden.