Small businesses needs a voice in the rule making process to ensure low cost, high quality health care in Missouri

By:  David M Jackson

Attention to detail often becomes more central to success when dealing with an issue or idea, rather than a tangible product or service.  Historic American Author Louis L’Amour said “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning.” This can be applied to politics in the sense that many corporations, small businesses, and associations may believe the work stops within the legislature or with campaigns. While keeping a pulse on legislative action can play a major role in all market sectors, many battles can be lost in the administrative rules process as well.  There are 187 state agencies in Missouri that write rules and regulations to implement the laws in Missouri Revised Statutes (RSMo) passed by the General Assembly or through initiative petition.

Twice a month, Missouri’s Secretary of State publishes the Missouri Register. This contains proposed rulemakings by departments and agencies that are then subject to public comment and a hearing.  With 24 editions and over 1200 pages of proposed rules and regulations over the course of one year, it is easy to see why attention to detail is so important. A major component of the rulemaking process is the role of the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board (SBRFB), which is charged with ensuring state agency rules and regulations do not create an unfair burden for small businesses.

A recent example of this can be seen in a rule published in November of 2008 by the Department of Social Services (DSS) that required all MO HealthNet providers to contract with a Patient Safety Organization (PSO) at the request of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).  On January 3, 2012, the Department of Social Services proposed to rescind this rule after the Missouri Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (MASCA) filed suit for not properly engaging the SBRFB to analyze the impact this would have on small businesses.  Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) add considerable value to Missouri’s economy, with a 2009 statewide economic impact of $841.5 million, including more than $42 million in tax payments and employment of 1,800 full time workers. Additionally, for every dollar spent in the ASC sector of the state economy, $2.35 worth of economic value is created in the state.1

Patient safety and convenience is the centerpiece of the ASC business model, as surgery centers strive to provide high quality medical care at lower costs with lower infection rates.  A recent national study found that seven-day mortality rates were 25 per 100,000 outpatient procedures at ASCs, compared to 50 per 100,000 in hospital outpatient departments. 1 Therefore, a regulatory mandate by the Department of Social Services for ASCs to contract with PSO’s could be a cost burden with little to no added value to the quality of care. Most importantly, the Department of Social Services skipped a vital step when they bypassed the SBRFB and neglected the impact this mandate might have on ASCs in Missouri.

This recent victory by the Missouri Ambulatory Surgery Center Association gives new meaning to free enterprise and quality health care in our state.  With a strong lobbying voice and regulatory oversight, all corporations, small businesses, and associations can prevent state and federal government from implementing costly requirements that could be passed on to consumers.  It is MASCA’s mission to continue advocating for free enterprise and competition in the legislative and regulatory environment that will lead to lower costs and high quality care for Missouri patients.

Link to January 3, 2012 edition of Missouri Register:

http://www.sos.mo.gov/adrules/moreg/current/v37n1/v37n1.asp

Source: [1] Oxford Outcomes (2010). ASC Impact Analysis.