When announcements about Medicare reform come out, physician office managers usually cringe. Typically, it means more red tape, paperwork and staff time. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced reforms last week that will actually save money for providers and require less administrative time.
"Regulatory Lookback" Initiative
In 2011, President Obama launched the "regulatory look back" initiative, calling on all government agencies to evaluate and streamline unnecessary regulations on business. This process included CMS taking a look at burdensome, unnecessary regulations required of providers and hospitals. A rule announced just last week will potentially save providers nearly $660 million annually and $3.2 billion over the next five years. This rule follows another announced in 2012 and more reforms from U.S. Health and Human Services last year, all aimed at getting rid of unnecessary and costly regulations. Reforms have included eliminating out-of-date requirements and simplifying health and safety standards for providers who participate in Medicare and Medicaid.
Efficiency = Improved Patient Care
CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner explained, "It's the right treatment for the right patient, and greater efficiency improves patient care across the board." Many of the rules allow for telemedicine improvements. For example, physicians serving small critical access centers and rural health clinics will not be required to be held to a prescriptive schedule, allowing them to serve patients without actually being on-site. Another example is that dietitians and nutritionists can order patient diets without requiring the preapproval of the physician. Many aspects of the new rule revolve around freeing up physician time so that they can better care for the patients who really need their expertise. In turn, services will be faster for patients.
CMS emphasizes the new rule improves quality of care by eliminating administrative processes that previously consumed valuable physician time. The details of this rule and others can be accessed through the Office of the Federal Register.
Medical practice management is more challenging now than ever. Medicare and Medicaid compliance are only one piece of the health care reform puzzle that physicians are being forced to adapt. If you have concerns regarding compliance, our 40 years of experience can help you answer questions to ensure your practice is in compliance with legislative changes and running as efficiently as possible. Give us a call or post your question here.