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Health Regs in Obamacare Hurt Patients and Providers


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts today said regulations under Obamacare will hurt patients by limiting access to quality care and placing undue burdens on providers struggling to keep up with paperwork and red tape.

Roberts made these remarks during the third of four floor speeches he is giving to highlight federal environmental, health and financial regulations that damage different sectors of the economy. Roberts continues his efforts to ensure the Obama administration carries out the president's executive order to review regulations harmful to the economy.

At issue are media reports where many of the agencies claim they are not subject to the president's regulatory review because they already meet all of the commitments in the executive order.

Last month, Senator Roberts introduced a bill called the "Regulatory Responsibility for our Economy Act," or S. 358, to strengthen and codify the president's Executive Order from January 18, 2011, to ensure the president's order is carried out to review, modify, streamline, expand, or repeal those significant regulatory actions, that are duplicative, unnecessary, burdensome, or would have significant economic impacts on Americans. The legislation has 37 cosponsors.

The following is the full text of his prepared remarks:

"While I was in Kansas over this last work period, I talked to a number of patients, providers and advocates about the president's Executive Order and my legislation -- the Regulatory Reform for Our Economy Act. I held a stakeholder roundtable in Topeka to get feedback from patients and providers on their thoughts related to health care reform. I was not surprised to hear that every representative at that meeting had a concern with regulations, but the sheer volume was truly extraordinary.

"I was already aware of regulations such as those put forth by the Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Department of Labor and Treasury that have resulted in the child-only insurance market effectively disappearing in 20 states.

"And I have already sent letters to the administration detailing my concerns with regulations including:

"The 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule which requires that laboratory requisition forms are signed by the ordering physician. This rule could have potentially serious implications on patient care and business practice.

"On November, 17, 2010, Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule which, as required by Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), conditions payment for home health and hospice services based upon a face-to-face encounter between patients and their physicians or certain non-physician practitioners prior to certification for home health or hospice services. This is resulting in burdensome requirements for our rural home health and hospice patients.

"Anti-Switching Rule in Medicare's Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS). Specifically that the proposal to enforce the rule in subsequent rounds of the CBP, but not Round 1, may compromise beneficiary access to appropriate diabetes testing supplies and leave beneficiaries vulnerable to pressure from suppliers to switch testing systems.

"But again, I was surprised to hear that every representative at this stakeholder meeting to discuss the impacts of health care reform had concerns with regulations...some of which are buried in the volumes of regulations being issued every day and that defy comprehension.

"When discussing the president's Executive Order and regulations with my constituents and those representing the patient and provider community, the number one concern that I heard was a fear for the impact of future regulations.

"While there is considerable concern with the burden of regulations that have already been issued, I heard time and time again that there is an even greater concern with the uncertainty of future regulations, especially those regulations for implementing PPACA and their potential to have a further and greater impact on jobs and the economy. Even greater than the impacts we discussed during the health care reform debate.

"Additionally, I have heard that the combination of the regulations being issued to implement the PPACA statute have resulted in an increase in premiums for individuals and businesses, which as you know results in increased costs and tough choices.

"Related to this, I am concerned by reports that I am hearing that staff within the administration have signaled that regulations being issued to implement the PPACA statute already comply with the president's Executive Order and would not need to be included in a review.

"I believe otherwise, and this belief is being verified by personal stories from Kansans. In my letter to the president today, I strongly encouraged him to review all of the regulations that have been issued, past, present and future, while considering their impact on our economy and jobs.

"My legislation would close loopholes in president Obama's Executive Order including those that the Administration has been using to bypass valuable stakeholder input on regulations.

"In fact, I hear often that patients and providers feel that they do not have a voice in the regulatory process. More specifically, I hear that a number of regulations are currently being issued through a shortened process which allows limited or no input from those most affected by the regulations, prior to their implementation, and may result in an even greater confusion and burden which then results in greater costs and economic impact, especially if changes are necessary based on later comments that the administration receives.

"In my letter to the president today I have encouraged the administration to limit the use of this regulatory process and take every available opportunity to get feedback from those who would be most affected by these regulations and allow for ample time to review and consider that feedback prior to implementing future regulatory priorities. In addition, I have encouraged the administration to review any comments received on regulations that have already been issued, for any concerns that indicate a potential to further our economic crisis."

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