- The Committee on Ways & Means reiterated the importance of stakeholder collaboration to further the aims of the Medicare Red Tape Relief project designed to reduce administrative burden associated with federal regulations.
This commitment to reducing administrative burden on Medicare providers was the focus on a recent initiative summary from the Committee.
Launched in 2017, the Red Tape Relief initiative is intended to improve clinical efficiency and care quality for Medicare providers and patients.
“Regulations have their place and are important to ensuring quality, integrity, access, and safety in our health care system,” wrote committee members in the report.
“But, if rules are misguided, outdated, or overly complex, they can have a suffocating effect on health care delivery by shifting the focus of providers away from the patient’s needs and toward unnecessary paperwork, and ultimately increase the cost of care. When burdensome regulations detract from patient care, Congress should look to improve on them or eliminate them entirely,” report authors continued.
The committee is currently seeking feedback on ways to streamline regulatory requirements, reduce unnecessary administrative burden, and increase clinical efficiency through both regulatory and statutory means to promote health IT innovation, improve the patient experience, and enhance quality of care.
The project includes three stages. First, the committee collects feedback from stakeholders about policies that improve healthcare, as well as policies that stand in the way of quality improvement.
Next, the committee hosts roundtable discussions with stakeholders to identify solutions to existing problems. Finally, the committee takes Congressional action based on feedback from stakeholders and correspondence with the Administration.
So far, more than 158 clinicians and clinician groups have engaged with committee members to inform administrative relief efforts, according to the report.
Additionally, 101 hospital and facility groups, 22 drug and medical device groups, 13 ambulance groups, 11 insurance groups, 10 major health systems, eight home health agencies, and six health information groups have contributed feedback to the project in the past year.
One focus of the group is to reduce the number of “chart abstracted” measures, which require inpatient hospital staff to manually enter values to fulfill reporting requirements.
“Separately, many clinicians have to report nearly 30 measures to 7 different payers, which again leads to less time focused on patients and is contributing to clinician burnout,” wrote report authors.
“Providers are frustrated because they got into the health care field to directly care for patients, yet documentation and administrative tasks continue to take greater amounts of time, which could have been time spent with patients. Meanwhile, patients and their families often wait hours or weeks just to get one-on-one time with their clinician,” committee members continued.
Eliminating these time-consuming administrative demands may help to improve patient care and reduce care costs.
Committee staff discussed these and other potentially burdensome areas in a March 15 roundtable discussion earlier this year.
Participants also addressed prior authorization, Stark Law and anti-kickback laws, eliminating duplicative administrative tasks, and expanding the use of innovation to reduce administrative burden, among other issues.
The committee fielded a number of additional roundtable discussions with stakeholders from a variety of care settings through July 17, 2018.
The committee has assisted in reducing administrative burden already through a series of pieces of legislation signed into law in 2018, including the Securing Fairness in Regulatory Timing Act of 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and several other regulations that lowered provider burden associated with MACRA and Stark Law.
“As we look to the fall, the Committee will continue to explore common-sense solutions based on the feedback from stakeholders and the Administration,” emphasized committee members. “Rulemaking for calendar year 2019 Medicare payments is still under way, and it is crucial that stakeholders understand the importance of the comment period.”
Consistent, open communication between committee members, Congress, and industry stakeholders is imperative to enabling value-based care and shedding unnecessary federal regulations.
“As such, the Committee will continue to work with the Administration to reduce burden for health care providers looking into 2019 and beyond,” the committee concluded.