Mass. House Budget Recommends Scaling Back EHR Requirements

May 15, 2014 in News

The Massachusetts House in its fiscal year 2015 budget proposal recommends modifying a provision of a state law that requires doctors to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health record systems and other health IT as a condition of maintaining their medical licenses, FierceEMR reports.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 5/12).

Background on the Provision

The provision is part of a larger state law aimed at addressing health care costs and transparency that is scheduled to take effect in 2015. The provision requires health care providers applying to the state’s medical board for licensure to demonstrate proficiency in using several forms of health IT, including:

  • Computerized provider order entry;
  • EHRs; and
  • Electronic prescribing.

According to the provision, proficiency — at a minimum — means providers must demonstrate the skills used to comply with the federal meaningful use incentive program (iHealthBeat, 7/24/13).

Details of Budget Proposal

Under the new budget proposal, the state House recommends relaxing the requirement so that doctors only must show that they are familiar with the use of EHR systems for patient care (FierceEMR, 5/12).

In a release, the Massachusetts Medical Society said it “strongly supports” modifying the language of the state law.

It writes that the provision in the House’s budget proposal “is designed to prevent disenfranchising more than 10,000 physicians who, by law or other circumstance, cannot achieve meaningful use certification.”

The medical society added that it plans to “encourage the Senate to include similar language in its budget recommendations, expected in mid-May” (Massachusetts Medical Society release, 5/9).

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