Bill To Shorten Meaningful Use Reporting Period Reintroduced

January 13, 2015 in News

On Monday, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) reintroduced a bill (HR 270) that would shorten the meaningful use reporting period in 2015 from 365 days to 90 days, Health Data Management reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 1/13).

Background

An HHS final rule released in September 2014 gave providers until 2015 to attest to meaningful use Stage 2 and delayed the start date for Stage 3 from Jan. 1, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017.

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.

The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act, or Flex-IT Act, originally was introduced in September 2014 by Ellmers and then-Rep. James Matheson (D-Utah) (iHealthBeat, 9/17/14). The bill failed to pass before the 114th Congress ended its session.

Bill Details

On Monday, the new legislation was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Ways and Means (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 1/13).

Similar to the original version, the new legislation would require a 90-day reporting period in 2015 rather than a full-year reporting period (Gold, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 1/13).

Ellmers said, “There is a tremendous need for our health care providers to have flexibility in meeting HHS’ stiff deadlines,” noting that the “time constraints imposed on doctors and hospitals are inflexible and simply unmanageable.”

In addition to Ellmers, the new bill is sponsored by Reps.:

  • David Scott (D-Ga.);
  • Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.);
  • Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.); and
  • Ron Kind (D-Wis.) (Health Data Management, 1/13).

Reaction

The reintroduction of the Flex-IT Act received praise from several groups, including the:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians;
  • American Hospital Association;
  • American Medical Association;
  • College of Healthcare Information Management Executives;
  • Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society; and
  • Medical Group Management Association.

In a joint release, CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell said “we believe significant changes are needed to address increased dissatisfaction with EHRs and growing disenchantment with the program.” He added, “This bill, if passed, would begin that much-needed course correction.”

Meanwhile, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said the bill is a “positive first step toward ensuring the program is a success,” adding, “We need to be practical and responsible in terms of implementation timetables.”

Further, HIMSS North America Executive Vice President Carla Smith said the bill is “essential to giving providers and hospitals a realistic chance to meet the 2015 meaningful use requirements” (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 1/13).

However, some experts say an upcoming proposed rule for Stage 3 of the meaningful use program is more likely than legislation to provide changes to the program (iHealthBeat, 1/5).

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