Earlier this month, physicians, hospital administrators, biotech industry representatives, and health plan officials urged New York State legislators to reform several state regulations at a hearing in Buffalo. These groups claim that these regulations stifle innovation, making it more difficult to deliver medical services.
Current or proposed mandates were criticized because they set strict rules on how hospitals handle patients, require that hospitals seek approval from the state for renovations, and place increasing administrative burdens on doctors. The intention of this hearing is part of a push to overturn or revise as many as 1,000 regulations. Examples of such regulations include hospitals being required to submit to inspections by both a federal commission and a state agency; state licensing requirements for experienced doctors who received their medical education in another country, and two pending bills that are backed by the unions that would set nurse to patient ratios and create a safe patient handling policy.
Change is also being sought to the Safe Patient Handling Act. The change would make it voluntary rather than mandatory. There was also a case made for “meaningful” tort reform and streamlining New York State’s certificate of need process that must be followed by health care institutions prior to any reconfiguration or new construction.
It was also noted that hospitals in New York spend $1.6 billion every year on medical malpractice costs, which drive up the price of insurance and lead physicians to practice “defensive medicine,” such as administering unnecessary tests, in an attempt to avoid lawsuits. Some argued in favor of judicial reform that would include a cap on jury awards of damages. Additionally, with budget cuts happening every year, financially strapped hospitals are not able to provide all their residents with high quality care and there is no relief in sight.
Another discussion involved urging the state to alter a provision in the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act that requires physicians, registered nurses, psychologists, and clinical social works to report patients who they believe are a treat to himself or someone else. One claim is that the reporting standard is too broad and should only apply to mental health professionals and only when a threat is “imminent.” These broad standards increase the administrative work of practicing medicine.
Many of these medical professionals hope to change these regulations to better the quality of care of patients by making it less difficult to deliver medical services to patients, or at least to keep it from becoming more difficult.
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