Deregulation Agenda Expected to Continue Despite Price's Resignation

Guidehouse's Rulon Stacey via Modern Healthcare

During his short stint leading health policy for the Trump administration, Dr. Tom Price spearheaded a number of efforts to ease the regulatory burden on the industry, especially for his peers in the physician community.

While few expect the administration to dial back on that commitment, Price's resignation on Sept. 29 as HHS secretary could, at least momentarily, force agency heads to tap the brakes on any bold new policies.

"It clearly puts everything in slow motion," said Gail Wilensky, who oversaw Medicare during George H.W. Bush's presidency and is now a senior fellow at not-for-profit Project HOPE. "The heads of agencies tend to not make major decisions without the head of the organization in place. It makes agency leaders a little more conservative."

Under Price, HHS took a number of steps to scale back several Obama-era regulations. For instance, the CMS carved small physician practices out of complying with new quality and reporting rules under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The CMS also took steps to make bundled-payment models voluntary. And earlier this month, the agency issued a request for information on how it can taper back mandatory participation in new payment programs further. The American Medical Association earlier this month started tracking the department's deregulation agenda.

Regardless of what happens in Washington, industry leaders can ill afford to take their eyes off of the bigger issues of improving quality and reducing costs.

Rulon Stacy

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