Federal officials say they can save hospitals $600 million a year in administrative costs by eliminating obsolete and burdensome regulations for participation in Medicare, but the announcement was greeted with caution and skepticism.
The proposal to revamp Medicare's conditions of participation, or COP, came with the largest single dollar-savings in a bullet-pointed, 44-page report released by HHS last week outlining areas where regulators in the massive federal agency say they can eliminate rules without harming patient care.
Overall, the plan touched on dozens of possible changes in regulations for hospitals, payers, devicemakers, states and Medicare beneficiaries. Regulators pledged to make devices easier to bring to market, privacy practices easier to communicate to patients, and scientific research involving human subjects more streamlined, among other topics.
The report came in response to a Jan. 18 executive order from President Barack Obama that mandated all federal agencies submit a plan to review significant regulations with an eye toward listening to public comment, imposing the least-burdensome rules, and reducing redundancy and overlap for industries governed by multiple agencies.
While the document was short on specific details, some observers cheered the overarching goals.