A new Pennsylvania law eases restrictions that have limited the kinds of procedures allowed to be performed in ASCs.
Gov. Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 818, which amends the state’s Health Care Facilities Act, into law in July. Until the bill’s passage, surgery centers in Pennsylvania had to go through a burdensome exception process to get special authorizations to perform many procedures that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) had long ago deemed safe for outpatient surgery. This waiver process often took more than two years to complete, which raised costs for providers and limited patients’ access to same-day care.
The bill removes the regulations, which do not exist in many other states, for procedures that are on CMS’ ASC-approved list. Language was revised for procedures not on the approved list to make the waiver process shorter and more transparent. Procedures permitted in Pennsylvania ASCs now align with those approved by CMS and permitted in many other states.
State Sen. Judy Ward says she sponsored the bill to reduce bureaucratic red tape for ambulatory surgery centers. Some of the burdensome regulations, crafted in the 1990s, were antiquated because they didn’t foresee surgical advances that have made more kinds of operations safe in outpatient settings. It took two years for the bill to become law, but Sen. Ward believes it was worth the wait.
“Medical technology has advanced tremendously over the years and surgery centers are now able to perform countless surgeries in a safe and efficient way,” says Ms. Ward. “This bill will increase healthcare access, lower costs and is a win for patients and providers.”
The law has had an immediate impact. On July 21, Cardiovascular Experts of Central Pennsylvania held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a cardiology ASC that would not have been built under the old regulations. The center will perform interventional endovascular procedures for patients with blocked arteries that the old law restricted to hospital settings.
“I am proud to bring this level of expertise and innovation to the greater Harrisburg area, and I applaud the elected officials who fought to change the outdated regulations surrounding ambulatory surgery centers in the state,” says Rajesh Davé, MD, president and CEO of the new surgical center. “The regulations are now in line with technology, which means we can provide high-quality care and exceptional patient satisfaction in a low-cost setting.”Adam Taylor