- On February 26, the House Ways and Means Committee passed (by voice vote) the Electronic Health Fairness Act (HR 887), which would exempt encounters in surgical centers from Meaningful Use until standards for EHR certification are developed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The bill is being sponsored by Reps. Diane Black and Linda Sanchez.
- Meaningful use sets specific objectives that eligible professionals and hospitals must meet to qualify for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services financial incentive programs.
- In order to qualify for meaningful use incentives, eligible professionals must demonstrate that 50% or more of their outpatient encounters are at practices or locations equipped with certified EHR technology.
If the bill passes, any patient encounter that occurs at an ambulatory surgical center will not be treated as a patient encounter in determining whether an eligible professional qualifies as a meaningful EHR user. Because certified EHR technology is not currently available for surgical centers, this is good news for physicians because ambulatory surgical center encounters would otherwise put them at a disadvantage when attempting to meet Meaningful Use requirements.
The Electronic Health Fairness Act would also be beneficial for ambulatory surgical centers. According to Black, this legislation would protect the providers who conduct a majority of their care in ambulatory surgical settings from illogical penalties, while removing a major disincentive to conduct care in those settings.