HHS received 255 recommendations for reducing the regulatory burden on healthcare providers in the draft final report of its advisory committee on regulatory reform. The committee's recommendations address many areas that have been particularly troublesome for providers, including the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986. The committee urged HHS to distinguish physician responsibilities from hospital responsibilities under the law and to consider "safe harbors" protecting specialists in short supply and on call at multiple hospitals. Earlier this year, HHS issued the first major revisions to the act since it was passed in an effort to clarify and simplify hospitals' obligations under the law.
HHS said 26 of the committee's recommendations already have been implemented and efforts are underway to address the others, such as using plain language in communications to providers. In developing its recommendations, the committee focused on "some of the unintended consequences of various regulations," said Committee Chairman Douglas Wood, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson formed the committee last year to seek the views of physicians, nurses, consumers and others on the healthcare industry's regulatory load. "One by one, we are removing the unnecessary barriers between patients and their doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers," Thompson said in a written statement today. Read the report online at www.regreform.hhs.gov. -- by Jeff Tieman