House Bill Would Reduce 2015 Meaningful Use Reporting Period

September 17, 2014 in News

On Tuesday, House lawmakers introduced a bill (HR 5481) that would grant eligible professionals and hospitals more flexibility in fiscal year 2015 to meet reporting requirements for the meaningful use program, Clinical Innovation Technology reports (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 9/16).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Background

An HHS final rule released earlier this month that gives providers until 2015 to attest to meaningful use Stage 2 and delays the start date for Stage 3 from Jan. 1, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017.

Specifically, the rule will allow eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to:

  • Attest to meaningful use under the 2013 reporting year definition and use the clinical quality measures from 2013;
  • Avoid penalties for failing to move to meaningful use Stage 2 during the 2014 reporting period; and
  • Use the 2011 Edition certified EHR technology or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition certified EHR technology for the 2014 EHR reporting period.

However, CMS in the final rule declined to offer a 90-day reporting period during any quarter for Stage 2 in 2015, which was urged by many stakeholders. Instead, the final rule includes a year-long reporting period for Stage 2 in 2015 (iHealthBeat, 9/2).

On Monday, a group of health care associations — including the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association — urged HHS to shorten the EHR reporting period “to ensure that hospitals and physicians continue moving forward with technology to improve patient care” (iHealthBeat, 9/16).

Bill Details

The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act, or Flex-IT Act, was introduced by Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and James Matheson (D-Utah) (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 9/17).

The legislation would require a three-month reporting period in 2015 for Stage 1 and Stage 2 rather than a full-year reporting period.

Specifically, the bill would require HHS to allow the use of a three-month quarter EHR reporting period  to continue through 2015 for eligible professionals and through fiscal year 2015 for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals “without regard to the payment year or the stage of meaningful use criteria involved” (Goedert, Health Data Management, 9/17).

Comments on Bill

Ellmers in a statement said that the measure would “reinforce investments made to date and [would] ensure continued momentum towards the goals of the meaningful use program, including enhanced care coordination and interoperability” (Versel, Forbes, 9/16).

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives was quick to praise the legislation in a statement, saying, “The misstep by officials to require a full-year of reporting using 2014 Edition certified EHR Technology in 2015 puts many eligible hospitals and physicians at risk of not meeting meaningful use next year and hinders the intended impact of the program” (EHR Intelligence, 9/17).

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