Lawmakers, Stakeholders Urge CMS To Fix Meaningful Use Glitch

September 23, 2014 in News

Lawmakers and stakeholders are calling on CMS to fix a technical glitch in the meaningful use program that could inappropriately penalize physicians who recently adopted electronic health record systems, according to Modern Healthcare.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/22).

Background

CMS recently released a final rule that will provide additional flexibility by allowing eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to use the 2011 Edition certified EHR technology or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition certified EHR technology for the 2014 EHR reporting period.

Providers will be able to attest to meaningful use under the 2013 reporting year definition and use the clinical quality measures from 2013. Providers will not be penalized for failing to move to meaningful use Stage 2 during the 2014 reporting period.

However, physicians will only be able to use older EHR software if they can prove they are meeting the program’s goals by Oct. 1.

Glitch Details

According to recent reports, CMS will not be able to register until mid-October whether providers with new EHR systems can meet meaningful use requirements. Therefore, providers who adopted EHR systems for the first time this year likely will not have their reports registered by the Oct. 1 deadline (iHealthBeat, 9/2).

Specifically, the glitch affects:

  • Eligible providers who enrolled in the Medicare meaningful use program in 2014 and elected to meet Stage 1 requirements using 2011 Edition software or a combination of the 2011 and 2014 editions; and
  • Eligible providers who participated in and were paid under the Medicaid meaningful use program last year and plan to meet Stage 1 criteria this year using either 2011 Edition or a combination of 2011 and 2014 edition software (Modern Healthcare, 9/22).

CMS will withhold 1% of Medicare payments for 2015 for providers who miss the deadline (iHealthBeat, 9/2).

Lawmakers, Stakeholders Call for Action

On Friday, Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner urging the agency to “quickly and effectively” address the problem (Modern Healthcare, 9/22).

In the letter, Ellmers and Matheson asked CMS for an administrative delay of the Oct. 1 deadline for providers working to attest for the first time this year.

They wrote that without a delay, providers likely will face fines “even though they are acting in good faith” to meet the deadline.

In addition, they reiterated requests for CMS to shorten the 2015 EHR reporting period to 90 days (Gold, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 9/22).

Similarly, the Medical Group Management Association in a letter to CMS urged Tavenner to:

  • Alter and fix CMS’ eligibility system;
  • Grant a 30-day extension to affected eligible professionals that would begin after the problem is resolved; and
  • Notify the “physician community” of all changes.

Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser for MGMA, said, “It’s kind of ironic [CMS is] demanding a lot of providers and not ensuring [its] own website is technologically prepared.” He added that it is “reasonable for [CMS] to say … ‘[W]e have to extend the deadline.’”

Meanwhile, CMS spokesperson Rachel Maisler said the agency cannot yet fix the glitch because it “can’t change the system until the rule is effective,” and the “rule isn’t effective until Oct. 1″ (Modern Healthcare, 9/22).

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