CMS looks to reduce burden of ‘unnecessary’ regulation

In the next few months, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to announce several initiatives to ease the burden the federal government places on healthcare providers, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

“Some regulations are necessary in order to ensure patient safety and well-being, and to protect the integrity of federal healthcare programs,” wrote Verma in a blog posted on Tuesday. “However, over the past few years, regulations have tilted more towards creating burdens than towards serving as a safeguard for the programs. This shift is now having a negative impact on patient care, hindering innovation and increasing healthcare costs.”

Verma said the agency must make it easier for providers to “focus on doing the work that patients and families need them to do without causing them to be subject to excessive regulatory and administrative burden.”

In particular, she took aim at the burdensome regulations governing electronic health records, which she contends have made the practice of medicine difficult.

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“We have heard time and again that documentation for payment and for quality reporting is unnecessarily time-consuming and keeps clinicians working late into the night just to keep up on paperwork,” Verma wrote. “Electronic health records that were supposed to make providers’ lives easier by freeing up more time to spend on patient care have distanced them from their patients. New payment structures that were meant to increase coordination have added yet another layer of rules and requirements. No one went into medicine to become a paperwork expert.”

At the same time, she thanked providers for offering their thoughts on how to simplify CMS regulations, promising to continue to engage with hospitals and physicians on their concerns.

“To make sure we are addressing the actual pain points that doctors feel, we are visiting them where they work, listening to their stories about the challenges they face, and bringing those lessons back to CMS,” Verma noted. “We are listening, integrating the feedback we hear into our work at CMS, and making changes that will make it easier for doctors, nurses and other clinicians to do what they entered medicine to do: take care of those in need.”

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