In prepared remarks this week, CMS Administrator Seema Verma laid out a revised approach to regulatory oversight of healthcare providers, arguing it will help free healthcare providers from time-consuming paperwork and other administrative tasks. Dubbed “Meaningful Measures,” the main goal of the proposed policy is to significantly reduce the number of quality metrics hospitals must tally and report.
Verma noted the recent CMS decision to slow the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, known as MACRA.
“Related to our efforts to minimize burden in implementation of MACRA, we’re reexamining our process for conducting quality measurement across the board,” said Verma.
Inpatient hospitals wrestle with as many as 61 quality measures, according to Verma. Claiming too much time was spent “measuring processes and not outcomes,” she announced intentions to pare down the number of reported metrics to a core group that better reflected patient impact.
“Since assuming my role at CMS, we are moving the agency to focus on patients first,” Verma said. “To do this, one of our top priorities is to ease regulatory burden that is destroying the doctor-patient relationship. We want doctors to be able to deliver the best quality care to their patients.”
Although there’s a clear intention to redraw current routes related to the economics of healthcare, Verma reinforced the premise that the healthcare field needs to continue the shift from fee-for-service to value-based payments. It’s the means of defining value that’s up in the air.
CMS is still seeking input from major healthcare organizations on the best ways to streamline processes.
Verma cited a recent report by the American Hospital Association (AHA) that determined hospitals annually sink $39 billion into regulatory compliance efforts, devoting the equivalent of 59 full-time employees to associated administrative tasks.
“There is growing frustration for those on the front lines providing care in a system that often forces them to spend more time pushing paper rather than treating patients,” Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA said in a statement accompanying the report’s release. “Too often, these regulatory requirements seem detached from good and efficient patient care. The regulatory burden is substantial and unsustainable, and reducing the administrative complexity of healthcare would allow providers to spend more time on patients, not paperwork.”
That phrasing echoes that of the previously announced “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative at CMS, taking aim at the layers of regulation and reporting requirements that the Trump administration deems onerous.
Verma delivered her remarks at the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN) Fall Summit in Arlington, Virginia.