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CMS pulls proposed rule to make private accreditor reports public

By Maria Castellucci | August 3, 2017

Modern Healthcare
The CMS on Wednesday withdrew a proposed rule to require private accreditation organizations publicly release their reports on healthcare facilities, after an overwhelming majority of industry stakeholders came out against the change.

The agency announced the decision as part of its inpatient pay rule. The CMS said it “would be best” if the proposed rule was withdrawn after it considered public comments.

Under the proposal, accreditors like the Joint Commission would have been required to post survey reports and corrective action plans within 90 days after visiting a healthcare organization.

The CMS said the rule needed further “review, consideration and refinement” to ensure it would “inform patients and continue to support high quality care.”

The proposal was an attempt by the CMS to improve transparency in the industry by helping healthcare consumers make more informed decisions about where they receive care and by encouraging providers “to improve the quality of care and services they provide,” the agency said.

The CMS initially introduced the rule in April, and it was immediately panned by private accreditors and even providers including the American Hospital Association.

Private accreditation organizations argued during the comment period that the rule would only confuse consumers, tarnish the candid relationship they have with providers, and be an expensive administrative burden.

In its comment to the CMS, the Joint Commission claimed the rule would cost $3.7 million in the first year to follow, and $2.3 million in expenses for subsequent years because it would have to create new software and hire more staff.

The American Hospital Association also questioned the rule’s effectiveness. Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety at the AHA, said in a statement that sharing detailed accreditation reports “may not be the most useful or effective strategy for informing the public.”

But patient safety experts applauded the proposal, arguing private accreditors don’t currently do a good job protecting patients from harm at facilities and they should be forced to show how they evaluate providers. Those in favor of the proposal also said that transparency would encourage providers to improve quality outcomes and safety issues because the information would be open to the public.

The CMS only audits about 10% of providers so private accreditors carry the lion’s share of audits of facilities. Congress is currently considering a bill that would add dialysis centers to the list of facilities private accreditors can certify.

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