- CMS plans to step up oversight of organizations that inspect and accredit hospitals and other medical facilities nationwide, Administrator Seema Verma said Tuesday, criticizing these groups for "not living up to that high bar" expected of them.
- Verma said it's "deeply concerning" that facilities were deemed compliant by accrediting organizations when they in fact had serious deficiencies sometimes resulting in death. She also raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest between accrediting organizations and the hospitals.
- CMS has noticed "inconsistencies" in the way accrediting organizations inspect facilities and they use standards that differ from the federal government's, which she called unacceptable.
Over the past few years, federal regulators have grown more skeptical of the accrediting organizations they rely on to inspect more than 5,000 hospitals and 15,000 nursing homes that accept Medicare across the country.
Concerns were raised anew after an investigation in The Wall Street Journal revealed that hospitals rarely lose accreditation despite serious safety flaws.
CMS has attempted recently to strengthen oversight of accrediting organizations and Verma on Tuesday hinted that more is to come.
Last year, the agency sought to require accrediting organizations to disclose when they were considering a change in ownership.
Previously, CMS also said it would post accrediting organizations' performance data online in a bid to increase transparency. It also unveiled plans to launch a pilot to measure AOs ability to measure and track hospital compliance.
CMS did not immediately respond to requests for comments on where these measures currently stand.
The Joint Commission is the nation's largest accrediting organization, accrediting nearly 80% of hospitals, the WSJ found.
Verma also raised concerns about accrediting organizations that also provide consulting services, which she called a "glaring conflict of interest."
The agency previously requested a request for information to understand the scope of the issue. On Tuesday, she said: "You'll see more from us on this issue in the near future."