AAFP Continues To Raise Concerns Over Meaningful Use Audits

July 24, 2015 in News

The American Academy of Family Physicians has sent a letter to CMS acting Administrator Andy Slavitt expressing concerns that meaningful use audits place an undue hardship on physicians, FierceEMR 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 (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 7/21).

Background

In April, HHS’ Office of Inspector General began auditing meaningful use payments made to eligible professionals as part of its fiscal year 2015 work plan.

According to OIG spokesperson Donald White, the audits are being conducted to determine whether CMS is appropriately using taxpayer funding, rather than to identify fraudulent reporting by eligible professionals.

However, White added that if “auditors come across information that might involve enforcement issues, they might provide that information to CMS or OIG.”

Daniel Gottlieb, a lawyer with McDermott Will Emery, said that providers will have to repay incentives if OIG finds that they have received inappropriate payments.

Meanwhile, an external auditor for CMS has been reviewing all incentive payments made since 2012 (iHealthBeat, 4/10).

Details of Letter

In the letter sent earlier this month, AAFP cited several issues with the audits, including the:

  • Excessive administrative burdens placed on providers and practices to comply with requests;
  • Extensive back-and-forth communications and prolonged audit processes;
  • Lack of defined processes to end audits;
  • Lack of follow-up by auditors; and
  • Long periods of time between correspondences with auditors.

In the letter, AAFP stated, “Family physicians who have implemented and fully use [EHRs] in the spirit of the meaningful use program should have a reasonable expectation that the accompanying financial subsidy would help offset the implementation costs and associated initial decrease in practice productivity.” The letter added that “AAFP is concerned that auditors are causing undue hardship for family physicians with unreasonable and burdensome documentation requests which result in additional, significant expenses to be a meaningful user” (FierceEMR, 7/21).

AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder in the letter said family physicians have the right to know:

  • Details of the audit selection process;
  • The overall pass/fail rate of audits completed; and
  • The percentage of eligible professionals undergoing audits.

The letter called for immediate attention to the issue and a follow-up meeting (AAFP release, 7/17).

AAFP in April sent a similar letter to CMS that also called for immediate attention to concerns about auditing practices and a follow-up meeting. The April letter has not been answered (FierceEMR, 7/21).

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