Framing the move as an extension of existing efforts to remove regulatory burdens for health care operators under the current administration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday unveiled a new office dedicated to eliminating rules it deems “duplicative, unnecessary, and excessively costly.”
The Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics will continue the “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative, born out of an executive order issued early in the Trump administration, according to a CMS statement.
“This announcement permanently embeds a culture of burden reduction across all platforms of CMS agency operations,” the agency said.
Through various initiatives undertaken under the Trump administration, CMS claims to have saved providers $6.6 billion and reduced “unnecessary burden hours” by 42 million, through 2021.
“The Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics will ensure the agency’s commitment to reduce administrative costs and enact meaningful and lasting change in our nation’s health care system,” CMS administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. “Specifically, the work of this new office will be targeted to help reduce unnecessary burden, increase efficiencies, continue administrative simplification, increase the use of health informatics, and improve the beneficiary experience.”
Part of the office’s work will include greater collaboration with providers and health plans, per CMS.
“Stakeholder feedback is critical to addressing provider and clinician burden, as it helps CMS to remove or modify outdated regulations that impede innovation, ultimately resulting in improvements in health care delivery,” the agency noted.
CMS has implemented a variety of temporary flexibilities for operators during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly around telehealth, though it remains unclear how many of the changes will remain once the federal coronavirus emergency declaration ends.
For nursing home operators, the Trump-era push to reduce perceived regulatory burden meant delays in the enforcement of Phase 2 Requirements of Participation (RoPs) for nursing facilities back in 2017, as well as a proposed rule that would amend certain parts of Phase 3 — including the easing of requirements for the mandatory Infection Preventionist (IP) role, a move that has come under renewed scrutiny during the COVID-19 crisis.