- CMS has scrapped plans to make reports by public healthcare accreditors public, ProPublica gleaned from Wednesday’s release of the 2018 inpatient payment final rule.
- The agency had proposed in April that all accreditors be required to publicly report their findings from hospital inspections to ensure consumers know about issues such as medication errors, patient abuse and operations performed on the wrong person or body part.
- In explaining its decision to withdraw the proposal, CMS said federal law bars agencies from revealing results of audits performed by private accrediting bodies and the requirement could be construed as an attempt to circumvent the law.
CMS had hoped the provision would resolve the unevenness of some inspections being publicly reported. It would have affected The Joint Commission as well as smaller groups like the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program.
The agency left open the possibility of requiring public reporting in the future.
“CMS is committed to ensuring that patients have the ability to review the findings used to determine that a facility meets the health and safety standards required for Medicare participation,” a CMS fact sheet stated. “However, we believe further review, consideration, and refinement of this proposal is necessary to ensure that CMS establishes requirements, consistent with our statutory authority, that will inform patients and continue to support high quality care.”
The American Hospital Association has supported making more hospital quality information public, but questioned whether detailed inspection reports that aren’t easily understood are the answer.
Wednesday’s final rule increases hospital inpatient payments by $2.4 billion for fiscal year 2018, less that the $3 billion proposed in April but well above FY2017’s $726 million. It also suggests CMS is advancing plans to use information from Medicare Cost Reports to calculate uncompensated care payments — a plan that has been controversial.
The rule also eases EHR requirements, makes a change to how readmission penalties are assessed and continues delay of a rule limiting admissions at long-term care hospitals.