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AHA asks for relief from regulatory swamp

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— Photo by Jan Kronsell

A new report by the American Hospital Association complains that hospitals are drowning in regulations. The trade organization cites 629 requirements across nine domains, of which 341 requirements are hospital-related and 288 apply to long-term-care facilities, home health agencies and other PACs.

The AHA says that following these regulations costs hospitals $1,200 each time a patient is admitted.

Among the report’s key findings, as summarized by Healthcare Dive:

  • “An average-sized hospital devotes 59 full-time equivalents on regulatory compliance.
  • “Providers spend the largest share of time and resources on hospital conditions of partipation compliance and the billing and coverage verification process.
  • “An average-sized hospital spends nearly $760,000 annually to meet {electronic medical records in the “Meaningful Use’’ program} requirements and another $411,000 in related technology upgrades.
  • “Quality reporting requirements are often duplicative and inefficient, especially for providers using value-based purchasing.’’

To reduce the burden, the AHA report recommends: suspending the hospital star ratings on the CMS’s Web site; ending Stage 3 MU of EHRs; more regulatory flexibility in value-based-payment models and ending “the 96-hour rule’’ as a condition of payment for critical-access hospitals. Under the 96-hour rule, physicians must certify that Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries can be reasonably expected to be discharged or transferred to another hospital within 96 hours of admission.

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