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Notice

Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Application From the Joint Commission for Continued Approval of Its Hospital Accreditation Program

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AGENCY:

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, HHS.

ACTION:

Proposed notice.

SUMMARY:

This proposed notice acknowledges the receipt of an application from the Joint Commission for continued recognition as a national accrediting organization for hospitals that wish to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid programs.

DATES:

To be assured consideration, comments must be received at one of the addresses provided below, no later than 5 p.m. on March 19, 2020.

ADDRESSES:

In commenting, please refer to file code CMS-3391-PN. Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission.

Comments, including mass comment submissions, must be submitted in one of the following three ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):

1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this regulation to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the “submit a comment” instructions.

2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-3391-PN, P.O. Box 8010, Baltimore, MD 21244-8010.

Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.

3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-3391-PN, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

For information on viewing public comments, see the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Caecilia Blondiaux, (410) 786-2190.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Inspection of Public Comments: All comments received before the close of the comment period are available for viewing by the public, including any personally identifiable or confidential business information that is included in a comment. We post all comments received before the close of the comment period on the following website as soon as possible after they have been received: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the search instructions on that website to view public comments.

I. Background

Under the Medicare program, eligible beneficiaries may receive covered services from a hospital provided certain requirements are met. Sections 1861(e) of the Social Security Act (the Act), establish distinct criteria for facilities seeking designation as a hospital. Regulations concerning provider agreements are at 42 CFR part 489 and those pertaining to activities relating to the survey and certification of facilities are at 42 CFR part 488. The regulations at 42 CFR part 482 specify the minimum conditions that a hospital must meet to participate in the Medicare program.

Generally, to enter into an agreement, a hospital must first be certified by a state survey agency (SA) as complying with the conditions or requirements set forth in part 482 of our regulations. Thereafter, the hospital is subject to regular surveys by a SA to determine whether it continues to meet these requirements. There is an alternative; however, to surveys by SAs.

Section 1865(a)(1) of the Act provides that, if a provider entity demonstrates through accreditation by a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved national accrediting organization (AO) that all applicable Medicare conditions are met or exceeded, we will deem those provider entities as having met the requirements. Accreditation by an AO is voluntary and is not required for Medicare participation.

If an AO is recognized by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) as having standards for accreditation that meet or exceed Medicare requirements, any provider entity accredited by the national accrediting body's approved program would be deemed to meet the Medicare conditions. A national AO applying for approval of its accreditation program under part 488, subpart A, must provide CMS with reasonable assurance that the AO requires the accredited provider entities to meet requirements that are at least as stringent as the Medicare conditions. Our regulations concerning the approval of AOs are set forth at §§ 488.4, 488.5 and 488.5(e)(2)(i). The regulations at Start Printed Page 8875§ 488.5(e)(2)(i) require AOs to reapply for continued approval of its accreditation program every 6 years or sooner as determined by CMS.

The Joint Commission's current term of approval for their hospital accreditation program expires July 15, 2020.

II. Approval of Deeming Organizations

Section 1865(a)(2) of the Act and our regulations at § 488.5 require that our findings concerning review and approval of a national AO's requirements consider, among other factors, the applying AO's requirements for accreditation; survey procedures; resources for conducting required surveys; capacity to furnish information for use in enforcement activities; monitoring procedures for provider entities found not in compliance with the conditions or requirements; and ability to provide CMS with the necessary data for validation.

Section 1865(a)(3)(A) of the Act further requires that we publish, within 60 days of receipt of an organization's complete application, a notice identifying the national accrediting body making the request, describing the nature of the request, and providing at least a 30-day public comment period. We have 210 days from the receipt of a complete application to publish notice of approval or denial of the application.

The purpose of this proposed notice is to inform the public of the Joint Commission's request for continued approval of its hospital accreditation program. This notice also solicits public comment on whether the Joint Commission's requirements meet or exceed the Medicare conditions of participation (CoPs) for hospitals.

III. Evaluation of Deeming Authority Request

The Joint Commission submitted all the necessary materials to enable us to make a determination concerning its request for continued approval of its hospital accreditation program. This application was determined to be complete on December 18, 2019. Under section 1865(a)(2) of the Act and our regulations at § 488.5 (Application and re-application procedures for national accrediting organizations), our review and evaluation of the Joint Commission will be conducted in accordance with, but not necessarily limited to, the following factors:

  • The equivalency of the Joint Commission's standards for hospitals as compared with CMS' hospital CoPs.
  • The Joint Commission's survey process to determine the following:

++ The composition of the survey team, surveyor qualifications, and the ability of the organization to provide continuing surveyor training.

++ The comparability of the Joint Commission's processes to those of state agencies, including survey frequency, and the ability to investigate and respond appropriately to complaints against accredited facilities.

++ The Joint Commission's processes and procedures for monitoring a hospital found out of compliance with the Joint Commission's program requirements. These monitoring procedures are used only when the Joint Commission identifies noncompliance. If noncompliance is identified through validation reviews or complaint surveys, the SA monitors corrections as specified at § 488.9.

++ The Joint Commission's capacity to report deficiencies to the surveyed facilities and respond to the facility's plan of correction in a timely manner.

++ The Joint Commission's capacity to provide CMS with electronic data and reports necessary for effective validation and assessment of the organization's survey process.

++ The adequacy of the Joint Commission's staff and other resources, and its financial viability.

++ The Joint Commission's capacity to adequately fund required surveys.

++ The Joint Commission's policies with respect to whether surveys are announced or unannounced, to assure that surveys are unannounced.

++ The Joint Commission's policies and procedures to avoid conflicts of interest, including the appearance of conflicts of interest, involving individuals who conduct surveys or participate in accreditation decisions.

++ The Joint Commission's agreement to provide CMS with a copy of the most current accreditation survey together with any other information related to the survey as we may require (including corrective action plans).

IV. Collection of Information Requirements

This document does not impose information collection requirements, that is, reporting, recordkeeping or third party disclosure requirements. Consequently, there is no need for review by the Office of Management and Budget under the authority of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

V. Response to Public Comments

Because of the large number of public comments we normally receive on Federal Register documents, we are not able to acknowledge or respond to them individually. We will consider all comments we receive by the date and time specified in the DATES section of this preamble, and, when we proceed with a subsequent document, we will respond to the comments in the preamble to that document.

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Dated: February 6, 2020.

Seema Verma,

Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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[FR Doc. 2020-03082 Filed 2-14-20; 8:45 am]

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