HHS’ Massive Review of Rules and Regulations

Posted on June 8, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Does the title of this post make anyone else cringe? It sounds like government at its best (or worst depending on how you want to look at it) to me. I remember when I once heard the famous investor, Carl Icahn, talk about he could go into any company slash the staffing and maintain the same productivity. His point being that so many larger companies have a lot of people who don’t produce much value. Government is very similar in people and rules and regulations. However, they don’t get someone like Icahn who comes in and cuts out those that aren’t producing.

You’d think with this analysis that I’d then be excited about the massive Review of Rules and Regulations that HHS is undertaking as reported on in this article by Health Leaders Media. I do think that it’s good to do reviews and trim down regulations. My problem is that I’ve rarely seen someone in government do a review which ended up with stuff chopped out.

I’m not completely blaming HHS and the people that work there. The ones that I’ve met personally have been incredibly bright and thoughtful individuals. They hate all the red tap as much as the rest of us. The problem is that in many ways they’re tied in what they can actually do. Part of it is politics. Part of it is legislative requirements that are handed down to them.

I think the best indication that this massive review of rules and regulations isn’t going to yield the tens of millions of hours and billions of dollars in costs savings is the 89-page “Preliminary Plan for Retrospective Review” (PDF) that was released by HHS. A mere 89 page document to propose the preliminary plan for review (that’s sarcasm for those that missed it). I can’t help but wonder how many pages of additional documentation will be produced from this review. Maybe we should ask that they eliminate 1 page of regulation for every page of review that they produce. Then, we might yield some interesting results.

I know I’ve been gaining a much larger understanding of the regulation and rule making process thanks to the HITECH act. Considering the large effort that many people have put into that process, it makes me wonder what types of results a review of the HITECH regulations and rules would actually produce. Needless to say I’m skeptical of the benefits.

Reminds me of what my friend who works for the US government told me: “Am I doing something that’s important and valuable? Absolutely! Could it be done for about half the cost? Definitely.” Too bad we don’t have Icahn like take over of government that could easily cut out the waste in government.