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A change in the Medicare law in 2008 removed the "deeming" status of the Joint Commission and forced the accrediting body to formally apply to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for its continued authority to determine a hospital as eligible for participation in federal programs. This legislation was reportedly justified by a critical concern about the Joint Commission's ability to ensure patient safety through its hospital accreditation program. This article provides a comprehensive evaluation of the issues surrounding congressional legislation revoking the Joint Commission's special authority and calls into question the validity of that concern for the safety of hospitalized patients based on the Joint Commission's performance. The legal history of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' oversight of hospital accreditation is considered. The 2004 US Government Accountability Office report that triggered the relevant section of the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 is closely examined for validity. Once these relevant factors are reviewed, the reader may conclude that the legislation revoking Joint Commission's deemed status was not adequately justified.
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