CMS eliminates ASC hospital transfer agreement requirement in new rule

A new CMS rule will make it easier for ASCs to run efficient and effective operations.

CMS released its final rule on Sept. 25: "Regulatory Provisions to Promote Program Efficiency, Transparency, and Burden Reduction," which is expected to eliminate unnecessary or obsolete compliance requirements for healthcare providers. The agency estimates that changes could save $843 million within the first year of implementation.

ASCA has spent several years working with CMS to address concerns related to the provisions of this final rule. "We are pleased to see this support for patient access to ASCs and look forward to working with CMS on other initiatives that will enable Medicare patients to take fuller advantage of top-quality, lower cost care ASCs deliver," said Kara Newbury, ASCA Director of Government & Regulatory Counsel.

The new rule takes effect in 60 days.

As a result of the new rule:

1. ASCs won't have to have a written transfer agreement or hospital planning privileges for all physicians. Centers will need to provide hospitals with a document that includes information about their operation and their patient population.

2. CMS is working on a final proposal to require ASCs to create a policy for identifying patients that need a medical history and physical examination before surgery, instead of requiring this from all patients 30 days prior to the procedure. ASCA spells out the potential information CMS would require about the patient's history and physical examination here.

3. ASCs will be allowed to review their emergency preparedness plan every two years instead of every year, and they won't need to contact local, tribal, regional, state and federal emergency preparedness officials as part of their plan. The training for emergency preparedness is now only required every two years as well, instead of annually.

"This rule makes it easier for ambulatory surgery centers to remain efficient and affordable providers of outpatient surgery without compromising their commitment to patient safety," said ASCA CEO William Prentice.

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