Whereas CMS intending to reduce regulatory burden will nearly always go over well among the regulated, requiring improved patient access to EHR data and making hospitals post their prices for more effective price transparency are, not surprisingly, thus far having a different impact.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday followed through on its promise to institute an overhaul of the Meaningful Use program created to reduce the burdens on providers in terms of time and cost, while also increasing the programs' focus on interoperability.
Specifically, CMS is aiming to reduce regulatory burdens on clinicians and hospitals, but the agency is also proposing that they equip themselves, technologically and policy-wise, to grant patients access to their data in EHRs and post pricing for care services in a way consumers can understand. A CMS official told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity that starting in 2019, hospitals' federal ratings would be influenced by whether they provide health records this way and those that don't would be at risk of being penalized in their Medicare payments starting two years later.
The 2015 edition could help patients collect their health data from multiple providers using application programming interfaces (APIs), perhaps bringing all their health data together into a single digital place, the agency said.
In addition to promoting electronic health records interoperability, CMS proposed changes to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS) that would remove what the agency said are "unnecessary, redundant, and process-driven" quality measures.
The new rules would take effect in 2019. The agency said the proposal would eliminate 25 measures, saving hospital providers $75 million.
To better reflect this new focus, we are re-naming the Meaningful Use program "Promoting Interoperability". We envision a system that rewards value over volume and where patients reap the benefits through more choices and better health outcomes. This would result in the removal of a total of 19 measures from the programs and would de-duplicate another 21 measures while still maintaining meaningful measures of hospital quality and patient safety. "Secretary Azar has made such a value-based transformation in our healthcare system a top priority for HHS, and CMS is taking important, concrete steps toward achieving it". One of the proposed changes would reduce claim denials by eliminating the requirement that providers record a written inpatient admission order in the medical record to receive Part A payment.
Ultimately, all of these efforts aim to improve healthcare for the patient, said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
Also in the proposed rule, for the first time, CMS included a couple of bonus measures for opioid use disorder treatment.
Hospital associations, in fact, have yet to publicly weigh-in on this part of the rule - but it is expected to solicit comments in CMS's request for feedback by the June 25 deadline.