Congress questions Joint Commission accreditation process — 7 insights

The House and Energy Commerce Committee sent a letter to The Joint Commission requesting a briefing on its survey process and interactions with CMS by April 6.

Here's what you should know.

1. The Congressional committee is conducting oversight of CMS and accreditation organizations to check adherence to federal standards for Medicare and Medicaid programs.

2. CMS and three other accreditation organizations — the Bureau of Healthcare Facilities Accreditation, Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality and DNV GL Healthcare — also received information requests.

3. Representatives asked The Joint Commission to submit the following by March 23: Copies of hospital Medicare accreditation program applications submitted to CMS, including renewal applications; copies of performance reviews, validation survey feedback, corrective action plans or responses to those plans from CMS; and any correspondence with CMS addressing disparity rates for hospital surveys The Joint Commission performed.

4. The action is a direct response to a 2017 Wall Street Journal report, which found 350 hospitals accredited by The Joint Commission were in violation of Medicare requirements in 2014, but less than 1 percent had their accreditation violation.

5. The letter mentions concern about whether CMS oversight of accrediting organizations is adequate and notes disparities between CMS reports and findings by state agencies.

"According to CMS' most recent annual report to Congress, in (fiscal year) 2015, AOs conducting hospital surveys did not report 39 percent of 'condition level' deficiencies that were subsequently reported following validation surveys conducted by State Survey Agencies no later than 60 days following the AO survey," representatives wrote.

6. The letters are signed by committee members Reps. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, Gregg Harper, R-Mississippi, and Michael Burgess, MD, R-Texas.

7. The Joint Commission sees the request "as an opportunity to share on the work we do to improve healthcare quality and patient safety by facilitating high reliability" and plans to respond, a spokesperson told HealthExec.

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