Sen. Chuck Grassley believes hospital inspection reports should be released into the public sphere. The Republican lawmaker from Iowa last week penned a letter to Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), calling for the routine release of facility inspections conducted as part of the accreditation process for hospitals.
In the letter, Grassley notes his frustration in repeated efforts to get information from the Joint Commission, the main accrediting agency within the CMS. He also referenced a recent Wall Street Journal investigative report that found hospitals were routinely awarded reaccreditation despite significant problems.
“The Joint Commission revoked the accreditation of less than 1 percent of the hospitals that were out of Medicare compliance in 2014, the Journal found,” wrote reporter Stephanie Armour. “In more than 30 instances, hospitals retained their full accreditation although their violations were deemed by CMS so significant they caused, or were likely to cause, a risk of serious injury or death to patients.”
Although federal law currently protects the confidentiality of facility inspection reports created by the Joint Commission, Grassley asserts consumers deserve transparency.
“Making facility inspections reports public may go a long way to providing the necessary additional information for patients and their families to make informed decisions about where to seek care,” he writes.
Grassley has taken aim at the Joint Commission previously. In 2009, Grassley was a primary sponsor of legislation intended to drastically limit the agency’s role in hospital accreditation, citing a Government Accountability Report that determined the Joint Commission was too lax.
“Congress expects the Joint Commission to be a consumer watchdog on behalf of patients. Instead — it looks like the Joint Commission is a lap dog,” Grassley said at the time.
In the new letter, Grassley asks CMS to provide their interpretation of which current statutes mandate the confidentiality of hospital inspections. Further, he asks the agency to provide guidance on how the relevant statutes would need to be changed in order to legally share the information broadly. The senator requested answers no later than October 2.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Filed Under: Industry regulations