CMS Proposes Rule To Shorten 2015 MU Reporting Period

April 13, 2015 in News

On Friday, CMS released a proposed rule that would shorten Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use attestation for eligible professionals and hospitals to a 90-day period in 2015, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 4/10).

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

Rule Details

CMS said that the proposed rule aims to reduce reporting requirements and enable program participants to focus on advanced use of EHR technology and make improvements in quality to support health data exchange and interoperability (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 4/10). In addition, the rule seeks to better align requirements under Stage 1 and Stage 2 with recently proposed Stage 3 requirements (Jayanthi, Becker’s Health IT CIO Review, 4/10).

Overall, the proposed rule would:

  • Realign the reporting period starting in 2015 to allow hospitals to participate on the calendar year instead of the current fiscal year period;
  • Reduce the number of meaningful use objectives to improve advanced use of EHRs; and
  • Remove redundant measures and those that have become widely adopted (Healthcare IT News, 4/10).

In addition, the proposed rule would change Stage 2 meaningful use requirements related to patient engagement (HHS proposed rule, 4/10).

For example, CMS proposed reducing the requirement for patients to use technology to electronically download, view and transmit their medical records from 5% of eligible providers’ patients to just one patient (Modern Healthcare, 4/10).

In regard to the reporting period, CMS proposed:

  • In 2015 and 2016, new meaningful use participants would be allowed to attest for any 90-day period within the calendar year;
  • For 2015 only, all eligible providers would be allowed to attest for any 90-day period within the calendar year regardless of their previous participation;
  • For 2015 only, all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals would be allowed to attest for any 90-day period between Oct. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014, regardless of their previous participation;
  • For 2016, all eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals who are first-time attesters would be allowed to attest for any 90-day period within the calendar year, while returning participants would use a full calendar year reporting period; and
  • For 2017, all providers, regardless of their previous participation, would use a full calendar year reporting period as proposed in the Stage 3 proposed rule (Becker’s Health IT CIO Review, 4/10).

Medicaid eligible professionals and eligible hospitals who are attesting in 2017 for the first time would be exempt from the full calendar year reporting period, according to the proposed rule (HHS proposed rule, 4/10).

CMS will accept public feedback on the proposed rule during a 60-day comment period. A draft final rule could be issued as soon as this summer (Modern Healthcare, 4/10).

Reaction

Stakeholders seem to generally approve of the proposed rule.

HIMSS North America Vice President Carla Smith said her organization is “encouraged that CMS has listened to our members and other stakeholder concerns and included more realistic parameters for providers and hospitals, so they can meet the meaningful use requirements in 2015 and beyond” (Healthcare IT News, 4/10).

Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser with the Medical Group Management Association, called the proposed rule a “very important step for the agency.” He said, “The 90-day reporting period was absolutely critical if we were to continue on the path to success” (Modern Healthcare, 4/10).

The American Hospital Association in a statement also praised the rule for providing “some much needed relief on meaningful use regulations.” However, AHA cautioned that “the inclusion of numerous additional program changes at this late date risks causing confusion and added burden for hospitals on top of the elements proposed in the Stage 3 rule” (AHA release, 4/10).

Meanwhile, a group called the Alliance4Health is opposed to CMS’ proposal to reduce the patient engagement requirement for Stage 2. The group has created a petition on Change.org that calls on CMS not ease those requirements (Gold et al., “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 4/13).

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