CMS eases rules to cut doctors’ regulatory burdens

Changes to proposed regulations on Medicare conditions of participation will maintain self-governing medical staff requirements at hospitals and save nearly $1 billion.

By Charles Fiegl amednews staff — Posted May 18, 2012

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

The Obama administration removed several duplicative and burdensome regulations from Medicare that will save physicians and hospitals more than $1 billion, officials announced on May 10.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized two regulations that eliminated rules deemed to have adversely affected those participating in Medicare. In one regulation, billing privileges for physicians will be protected from unjust revocations. In another rule, CMS increased flexibility on governance boards at hospitals but protected the autonomy of medical staff at each facility.

“These changes cut burdensome red tape for hospitals and providers and give them the flexibility they need to improve patient care while lowering costs,” said acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “These final rules incorporate input from hospitals, other health care providers, accreditation organizations, patient advocates, professional organizations, members of Congress and a host of others who are working to improve patient care.”

CMS estimates that annual savings to critical access hospitals and other facilities will be $940 million a year. Other Medicare regulatory reforms would save an additional $200 million during the first year by promoting efficiency.

The American Medical Association had supported efforts to eliminate burdensome regulations, but it strongly opposed an initial plan to eliminate a requirement mandating single and separate medical staff for each hospital within multihospital systems. Medical staff self-governance is a basic federal requirement for accreditation and is mandated by some states.

“We are pleased that CMS adopted numerous AMA recommendations in the final Medicare conditions-of-participation rule, including a requirement that there be a single medical staff for each individual hospital,” said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD. “The AMA strongly supported this change from the previous proposal, which would have allowed a medical staff to be used over a multihospital system. A self-governed and autonomous medical staff at each hospital is imperative to ensure the health and safety of patients.”

Other CMS actions eliminated outmoded infection control instructions for ambulatory surgical centers, outdated Medicaid qualification standards for therapists and duplicative requirements for boards overseeing organ procurement programs.

CMS also no longer will bar physicians from re-enrolling in Medicare once enrollment and billing privileges are revoked because physicians failed to respond to revalidation requests, the agency said.

CMS did not finalize a proposal that would exempt certain physicians from enrollment deactivation when a doctor does not bill Medicare for 12 consecutive months. The agency concluded that allowing unused Medicare billing numbers to stay active would create a risk of identity theft and fraud.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn