The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), this week held a roundtable discussion focused on how policymakers can work to remove unnecessary burdens in the Medicare program. The goal of these roundtables is to help foster a health care system centered on offering patients quality and affordable value-based care focused on their needs, not Washington’s mandates.
This roundtable hosted representatives of multiple physician groups and medical advocacy associations. The participants shared specific areas within the Medicare program they believe need to be improved, modernized, or ultimately eliminated in order to help their providers offer quality care.
Chairman Roskam said at the start of the discussion:
“We have found that the nature of these discussions have been very positive, and I think it invites a different discussion. … The different discussion centered around finding a middle ground: one person’s patient protection is another person’s burdensome regulation. We can navigate through that.”
Throughout the roundtable, the panelists and lawmakers engaged in a productive dialogue regarding the regulatory burdens physicians currently face and where Congress should take action.
Specifically, the panelists expressed frustration with:
- Duplicative reporting guidelines;
- Federal standards and prior authorization guidelines for Health Plans;
- Concerns with adding more time at a computer and away from their patients;
- Standardization of rules and greater transparency from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding rules; and
- Lack of modernization of Stark Law and anti-kick back statutes.
Panelists stressed to the lawmakers that as health care transitions into a value-based system, regulations simply haven’t kept up with the times. Some even mentioned estimates of nearly $300 billion annually in administrative costs providers must pass along.
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) talked about CMS’ “96-hour Rule” and its impact on rural communities:
“CMS has said that it’s a low priority for enforcement, but I’m hearing from a lot of physicians who say, ‘that’s nice, but not very clear’.”
Many panelists agreed with Rep. Smith, noting that even if this isn’t a priority for CMS, it adds substantial strain for rural providers.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) also noted:
“We face currently a shortage of nurses. Especially in rural areas.”
Panelists mentioned that multiple industries across the U.S., and especially the medical field, are facing a workforce shortage.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), a podiatric surgeon, discussed irritation he has faced in his practice due to excessive administrative requirements:
“One of the greatest frustrations we have, I’ve always felt, is that I don’t need Washington to tell me if I’m practicing well or not. My patients do and my referring doctors do. That was what I based my success on…rather than submitting all this data that had nothing to do with taking care of the patients.”
Chairman Roskam closed the roundtable by saying:
“What I’ve observed from the physicians I know at home is that for a lot of them, it’s the joy of the practice of medicine that has evaporated basically. That’s the thing I think people are really longing for. And they’re professionals, they will pour themselves into their patients, they will be sacrificial and offer all the help they can for people. But there’s a joy that comes with that, and that is the part that through compounding regulatory regulations that are just discouraging. We can help. This is what we’re trying to do. My vision…is that we’re not convinced moving into a simpler, single sort of system—that doesn’t really end well for us. We want to focus on patients.”
CLICK HERE to learn about the Health Subcommittee’s roundtable in May with post-acute care medical professionals.
CLICK HERE to learn about the Health Subcommittee’s roundtable in April with hospitals.
CLICK HERE to learn about the Health Subcommittee’s roundtable in March with provider groups.