Monday, June 13, 2016

CMS Proposes Rule to Improve Health Equity and Care Quality in Hospitals

CMS News

June 13, 2016

Contact: CMS Media Relations
(202) 690-6145 | CMS Media Inquiries

CMS Proposes Rule to Improve Health Equity and Care Quality in Hospitals

Proposed rule prohibits discrimination, improves infection control,
and reduces antibiotic overuse. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today proposed new standards to improve the quality of care and advance health equity in our nation’s hospitals. The proposal applies to the 6,228 hospitals and critical access hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid. 

The rule proposes to reduce overuse of antibiotics and implement comprehensive requirements for infection prevention. CMS estimates that these new requirements could save hospitals up to $284 million annually, while also improving care and potentially saving lives. The proposed rule builds on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) quality initiatives, including the National Quality Strategy, the Center for Disease Control’s strategy to combat antibiotic-resistance bacteria, and the Partnership for Patients. 

“Working with tools provided by the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have taken significant steps to improve safety and quality in the past several years. Already, efforts to reduce healthcare-associated infections have resulted in reducing health care costs by nearly $20 billion and saving 87,000 lives,” said Kate Goodrich, M.D., M.H.S., Director, Center for Clinical Standards & Quality, CMS. “This proposal further supports hospitals’ safety and quality efforts by requiring all Medicare and Medicaid hospitals to have designated leaders in charge of specialized programs to prevent infections, improve antibiotic use, and follow nationally recognized guidelines.” 

The proposed rule also advances protections for traditionally underserved and often excluded populations based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity), age, disability, or sexual orientation. 

“This rule marks the first time that CMS has proposed explicitly to prohibit hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid from discriminating against patients,” said Cara James, Ph.D., Director of the CMS Office of Minority Health. “We know that barriers still remain in accessing quality care for communities that have been traditionally excluded or underserved. This proposal reinforces the principle that access to needed health services should not be blocked because of discriminatory practices.” 

The proposed rule also requires critical access hospitals, which are hospitals located in rural areas, to implement and maintain a Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program. This program monitors and improves a hospital’s care by collecting data to identify opportunities for improvement and develop corrective plans. Other hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid already maintain these types of programs. 

To learn more about the proposed rule, please visit: CMS looks forward to feedback on the proposal and will accept comments until August 15, 2016. Comments may be submitted electronically through our e-Regulation website at: 

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