HHS initiative to reduce regulatory burden

September 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has announced a department-wide initiative to reduce regulatory burdens in healthcare and respond faster to the concerns of healthcare providers, state and local governments, and individual Americans who are affected by HHS rules.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has announced a department-wide initiative to reduce regulatory burdens in healthcare and respond faster to the concerns of healthcare providers, state and local governments, and individual Americans who are affected by HHS rules.

"Over-regulation undermines quality of care and healthcare delivery by using scarce resources unproductively. We can help improve patient care by bringing more common sense into the regulatory process," Thompson said. "We need to act quickly when there are problems with our regulations. That means listening more closely to the people who are affected by our rules. It also includes going back to Congress to change individual provisions in the law, when that may be necessary."

Thompson announced that a Cross-Departmental Task Force on Regulatory Reform, headed by the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, is being created immediately to steer an ongoing review of HHS regulations and to oversee changes in regulations. The regulatory reform effort will also include expanded review of Medicare and Medicaid regulations as part of a reform of Health and Human Services' Health Care Financing Administration.

"Healthcare providers have been telling HCFA for years that many of our regulations are overly burdensome. It's time for action," Thompson said. "This effort is about listening better to the people we serve and working more effectively with the organizations that are our partners."

Medicare+Choice review

As a start, Thompson said HHS will review regulations governing the Medicare+Choice program, which provides managed care services for Medicare beneficiaries. He also said HHS will review the extensive cost reports that Medicare hospitals are required to file with the HCFA.

"At the very time when we are trying to attract more managed care plans to offer their services to Medicare beneficiaries, do we really need 854 pages of regulations standing in the middle of the front door to the program?" Thompson asked. "And today, 15 years after we moved away from cost-based reimbursement, do we still need to require hundreds of pages of cost information from every Medicare hospital? We need to examine our real needs and be sure we're not imposing unnecessary burdens on our healthcare providers."

According to Thompson, the new task force will raise the priority of regulatory reform across the department, provide a central point for HHS stakeholders to raise regulation-related concerns and provide a focus for bringing about more rapid response.

Thompson also pledged to work on a bipartisan basis with members of Congress, including Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and Pete Stark (D-CA) to reduce the HHS regulatory burden.

With 11 major operating divisions managing more than 300 programs, HHS issues some 200 regulatory actions each year. PR

Related Content:

News