CQC keeps fees steady for next year

The Care Quality Commission is not proposing any fee increases next year and has admitted it lacks both the data and business models to make any radical changes to its charging scheme in the near future.
In a consultation on changes to its fees for 2012/13, launched today, the CQC sets out its proposed charges to providers of out-of-hours primary care services, who will start registering with it from April 2012.
It also intends to reduce fees in the middle bandings for dental and independent ambulance services, and for the lowest level bandings for adult social care without accommodation.
Fees are charged for checking that providers registered with the CQC meet required standards under the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
The consultation also considers the CQC’s future fees strategy. The watchdog says it would rationalise fee schemes as quickly as possible where regulators are merged, for example in the government’s proposals to transfer functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to the CQC.
The CQC will also review charging for new kinds of providers that do not easily fit into its current fee schedule, such as co-operatives andsocial enterprises.
It will try to move to fees based on full-cost recovery, but the balance between grants and fee income is negotiated annually with the Department of Health, ‘and we are unable to give a definitive timescale for achieving [this]’, the consultation states.
The commission also says it ‘lacks sufficient evidence to support the use of third-party accreditation or other quality schemes to enable us to implement the government’s principle of recognising and promoting good practice within our fees scheme in the short term’. Its compliance-based regulatory model also did not support this approach.
‘However, we will begin to explore how incentivisation can be built into our fees policy over the next three to five years,’ the consultation says.
The CQC has rejected the idea of permitting fee payments by instalments.
It said this would cause additional transaction costs and ‘and significant risks in terms of fee recovery’.
The consultation period runs until December 28.