CMS proposal would make accreditation reports public — The Joint Commission questions its legality

CMS released its proposal to require all accrediting organizations with Medicare deeming authority to make survey reports of all organizations they accredit public, and The Joint Commission responded.

 CMS proposed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Long Term Acute Care Hospital Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule, and Request for Information CMS-1677-P, which contains the provisions on accrediting bodies.

"The Joint Commission strongly supports making reliable and valid quality data about healthcare organizations public, and we created the first such program in the United States for making nationally standardized data about quality for thousands of hospitals public," reported The Joint Commission. "However, survey reports are not healthcare quality data. They are quality improvement tools for healthcare providers."

The accrediting body feels CMS' proposed rule would make it more difficult for healthcare providers to improve quality and incentivize providers to be less candid about weaknesses on their surveys. The Joint Commission is also concerned providers and surveyors wouldn't be able to have an open dialogue about improvement efforts.

"There will be a race to the bottom on quality as healthcare organizations seek out oversight bodies that will report on the least number of standards comparable to the Medicare requirements. This may also lead to a growth in non-accredited facilities that will then be surveyed at taxpayer expense and with fewer oversight visits," according to the statement.

The proposal has legal implications as well.

"The CMS proposal sets up an inherent legal conflict for accrediting bodies working with information under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005," reads the statement. "The proposal is not legal given the Medicare statutory language that protects accreditation survey reports from broad release by the Secretary."

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