Thursday, May 10, 2012 Final Rule Aims to Reduce Burdensome Regulations, Encourage Efficiency The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued updates today to the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) that include provisions that reduce regulatory burdens and help providers to operate more efficiently. CMS estimates that annual savings to hospitals from the final rule on CoPs could exceed $900 million in its first year. CoPs are federal health and safety requirements ensuring high-quality care for all patients. Hospitals and CAHs must meet these conditions to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The final rule includes the following provisions that provide more flexibility and recognize the key role of nonphysician practitioners, such as physical therapists, in providing care: Broadens the concept of "medical staff" to allow hospitals the flexibility to include other practitioners as eligible candidates for the medical staff with hospital privileges to practice in the hospital in accordance with state law. All practitioners will function under the rules of the medical staff. Allows hospitals the flexibility to use standing orders and requires that protocols must be based on nationally recognized and evidence-based guidelines and recommendations. Eliminates the requirement for authentication of verbal orders within 48-hours and defers to state law to establish authentication time frames. Makes permanent the previous temporary requirement that all orders, including verbal orders, must be dated, timed, and authenticated by either the ordering practitioner or another practitioner who is responsible for the care of the patient and who is authorized to write orders by hospital policy in accordance with state law. A copy of the rule is available at this link.