The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today issued final rules reducing some regulatory burdens for providers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and revising discharge planning requirements for hospitals, critical access hospitals and home health agencies.
 
The burden reduction rule, proposed last year, allows health systems to use a unified/central staff across multiple hospitals for Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement and Infection Control Programs, rather than have individual staff for each separately certified hospital; lends assistance to Medicare re-approval procedures for transplant centers; allows hospitals to review their emergency preparedness plans every two years rather than annually; and removes certain other requirements for CAHs, hospitals with swing beds, home health agencies and ambulatory surgical centers.
 
The discharge planning rule, proposed in 2015, finalizes provisions requiring hospitals and CAHs to create discharge planning evaluations for patients who are likely to suffer adverse health consequences in the absence of adequate discharge planning, and when a patient, their representative or physician requests such a plan. The rule also requires hospitals, CAHs and home health agencies to provide certain medical information to the receiving facility when transferring patients. CMS did not finalize its proposal to require hospitals and CAHs to establish a post-discharge follow-up process for at least some patients discharged to home. Recognizing that hospitals already are doing this according to specific situations and patient needs, the agency encouraged providers to continue following evidence-based best practices to establish an appropriate process.

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