April 13, 2015

CMS proposed rule would ease EHR program demands

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking to give more flexibility to hospitals, office-based physicians and other healthcare providers to meet federal requirements for the meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs). The agency announced earlier this month a proposed rule to standardize the 2015 reporting period for the EHR incentive-payment program to 90 consecutive days of achieving meaningful-use criteria. Current rules require providers to meet meaningful-use targets for a full calendar year to avoid losing incentive payments and facing Medicare reimbursement penalties.  

The proposal would also eliminate some requirements that have become routine and reduce other demands. For example, in an effort to stimulate patient participation in the electronic exchange of their healthcare information, eligible providers would be required to have only one patient use technology to electronically download, view and transmit his or her records; this, instead of the current requirement of 5% of patients.

CMS also wants to change the reporting year for hospitals from the fiscal year to the calendar year to match the requirements of physicians and other eligible professionals who have been obliged to use the calendar year.

The proposed changes are subject to a 60-day comment period.  A final rule will be drafted and is expected to be issued this summer.

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