CMS No Longer Requires ASCs to Have Written Agreements to Transfer Patients

In an effort to remove “unnecessary or obsolete compliance requirements for healthcare providers,” as reported by Becker’s ASC Review, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a new rule governing ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). According to Becker’s, the new rule, “Regulatory Provisions to Promote Program Efficiency, Transparency and Burden Reduction,” will result in the following key changes:

  • ASCs no longer need “a written transfer agreement or hospital planning privileges for all physicians.” Instead, ASCs are required to provide “hospitals with a document that includes information about their operation and their patient population.”
  • A proposed condition of the CMS regulation would “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.”
  • The rule permits ASCs “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.” Additionally, emergency preparedness training is now only required every two years.

An Advisory Board article on the new CMS rule notes that the changes are intended to “reduce regulatory burdens on providers at hospitals, transplant centers and other facilities by eliminating certain Medicare requirements,” but ASCs “must continue to have a plan to effectively transfer patients who need emergency medical care from the ASC to a hospital.”

Talking with Becker’s about the updates, Ambulatory Surgery Center Association CEO William Prentice says, “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.”

The change was announced on September 25, 2019, and will go into effect on November 24, 2019.

MLMIC encourages policyholders to review details on the update here. Additionally, facilities, physicians and other staff should use caution when establishing new policies to ensure patient safety remains a priority. 

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