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The Need to Reform Pa.’s Health Care Regulations

February 21, 2023

Bringing Pennsylvania’s regulations into the 21st century will support hospitals, the health care workforce, and patient access to care across the commonwealth.

On Tuesday, the state House Republican Policy Committee hosted a hearing focused on improving Pennsylvania’s regulatory climate. During the hearing, Jelden Arcilla, MBA, RNC, NEA-BC, vice president and chief nursing officer, Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, urged lawmakers to review the state’s health care regulations to support patients, hospitals, and communities.

Health care regulations can be workforce deterrents. Arcilla noted long wait times for permitting and approval of nurse licenses as one example. Pennsylvania has an opportunity to update its regulations to safely oversee hospitals and health systems without delaying timely access to care, he said.

“We look forward to working with you, your colleagues in the Senate, the governor, state regulators, and other stakeholders to streamline Pennsylvania’s health care regulatory structure to align more closely with patient-care goals and allow for our sector to more fully realize its potential as leading national innovators in the health care field,” Arcilla said in prepared remarks for HAP.

Among the key takeaways:

  • Pennsylvania perspective:  Many of the state’s hospital licensure regulations date back to the 1980s, and do not reflect modern standards of care (telehealth, electronic health records, etc.). Hospitals also are subject to a variety of sub-regulatory guidance that has a wide degree of interpretation for compliance.
  • A maze of regulators:  At the federal level, an American Hospital Association (AHA) analysis noted that there are more than 43 agencies, offices, and departments to which hospitals are accountable.
    • State and federal requirements for provider training and qualifications also are misaligned—with the federal government requiring three-year intervals, and the state mandating a two-year timeframe.
  • Cost:  The AHA analysis indicated hospitals spend $39 billion a year on the administrative activities related to regulatory compliance.
  • Scope of compliance:  An average-size hospital dedicates 59 employees to regulatory compliance.
  • Quotable:  “Again, the hospital community affirms its belief that government oversight is appropriate to assure our shared commitment to providing patients with safe, high-quality care,” HAP said in prepared remarks. “Many regulations, however, impose administrative burden with little or no positive effect on patient safety.”

HAP continues to advocate hospital regulations that support flexibility and ensure patients receive the right care, at the right time, and in the right setting. Learn more about our regulatory advocacy.

A replay of the hearing, as well as HAP’s testimony, is available online.

For questions, contact Heather Tyler, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.