Congressmen Ask CMS to Ease Red Tape for Skilled Nursing Facilities

Two leaders of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee this week asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ease regulatory burdens on skilled nursing facilities.

In multiple letters to CMS administrator Seema Verma, Rep. Kevin Brady and Rep. Peter Roskam called for reduced compliance burdens for post-acute care providers, hospitals, and physicians.

“Health systems with PAC beds devote an additional 8.1 full-time employees to compliance with PAC regulatory requirements, over half of whom are clinical staff who could otherwise be caring for patients,” Brady and Roskam wrote in their letter devoted to post-acute care.

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Brady, a Texas Republican, chairs the Ways and Means Committee; Roskam, Republican of Illinois, leads its subcommittee on health care issues. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar and White House Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney were also copied on the letters.

The calls came as part of the larger “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative, in which more than 100 post-acute care providers submitted feedback on how the CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services could help streamline reporting and other regulatory requirements.

“This is a testament to the fact that there is a real opportunity to get red tape out of the way in order to drive more efficiency and promote innovation, while reducing costs and improving patient care,” Brady and Roskam wrote.

For SNFs, the representatives singled out consolidated billing issues stemming from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which requires operators to submit all Medicare claims regarding resident care. Providers and accountants who responded to CMS’s call for feedback reported “backlogs and contradictory CMS interpretations” of the types of services that are included and excluded from the billing rules, according to the lawmakers.

“We urge CMS to take steps to streamline consolidated billing processing and clarify policies to reduce time lost on paperwork when such resources could instead be diverted to patient care,” they wrote.

Brady and Roskam also praised CMS for eliminating the 25% limit on hospital discharges to long-term acute cate hospitals, effective fiscal year 2019, and expressed optimism about efforts to improve the home health eligibility approval process.

Written by Alex Spanko

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