The main federal agency implementing Obamacare has increased paperwork requirements for hospitals, doctors and patients by nearly 70 percent since the law was passed, new research estimates.
The Department of Health and Human Services imposes up to roughly 700 million hours of annual paperwork for providers and patients, six years into implementing Obamacare, according to the right-leaning American Action Forum, which opposes the healthcare law. That is up from 412 million hours in 2008, two years before the Affordable Act was passed. And it puts the agency's paperwork requirements as the second-highest of any federal agency, behind only the IRS.
"These huge cost and paperwork figures do not just exist in the abstract," wrote Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy for the group, who wrote the study released Thursday.
"They are partly responsible for the countless forms patients must fill out in waiting areas and hospitals. These burdens are responsible for the millions of hours doctors spend complying with regulatory requirements, as opposed to patient care."
Batkins estimates that completing HHS' current paperwork requirements for one year would take 354,500 employees working full time in the private sector. Those employees would cost about $23.1 billion, assuming the average wage rate of a compliance officer.
Not all of the new paperwork requirements stem directly from the healthcare law, but many do. And they apply not just to providers, but also to HHS itself. The agency must complete 86 new paperwork requirements related to the law, according to the Obama administration. HHS currently estimates its paperwork burden as costing $847 million.