UPDATED: CMS intends to shorten Meaningful Use reporting period

Dive Brief:

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday announced that it intends to update rules for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs in 2015, with the goal of reducing the reporting burden on providers. 
  • The agency will consider proposals to realign the reporting period with the calendar year to allow hospitals more time to onboard 2014 Edition software; shorten the 2015 reporting period to 90 days; and otherwise modify the program to "reduce complexity and lessen providers' reporting burdens."
  • The new rule is expected this spring and is separate from the forthcoming Stage 3 proposed rule that is expected to be released by early March, according to the agency. 

Dive Insight:

Adjusting the reporting period seems like a no-brainer. The HHS rule mandating a 365-day Stage 2 reporting period for Meaningful Use—a term that HHS hasn't even really defined as yet—was hastily written and even more hastily published. And unsurprisingly, hospitals aren't able to keep up: 

As of November 1, only 43,898 eligible professionals and 1,903 eligible hospitals had attested to Meaningful Use for the 2014 reporting period, out of 500,000 active registrants, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Of those, only 1,478 eligible professionals and 840 eligible hospitals had attested for Stage 2.

Making matters worse, CMS announced in December that it would penalize more than 257,000 physicians and other healthcare providers 1% of their pay in 2015 for failing to attest. 

The vast majority of stakeholders in the healthcare industry are behind (and have been advocating heavily for) a 90-day reporting period, particularly CHIME. President and CEO Russell Branzell said after the recent reintroduction of the Flex-IT Act, "While CHIME remains committed to the success of Meaningful Use, and to making sure improved patient care is the program's lasting legacy, we believe significant changes are needed to address increased dissatisfaction with EHRs and growing disenchantment with the program."

The AMA has already indicated its support of the announcement. President-Elect Steven Stack wrote in the association's release, "We are eager to see the proposed rule as we have been working with CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT offering solutions to improve the incentive program for quite some time. Most recently, we provided recommendations for revamping the electronic health record certification process, a blueprint for fixing the Meaningful Use program and a framework for improving EHR usability."

Updated to include the AMA's position on the announcement.

Filed Under: Health IT Policy & Regulation
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