The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently published new proposed rules for the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program. As part of this program, physicians receive incentive payments to offset the cost of implementing EHR technology. The corresponding “stick” to this carrot is the fact that physicians must demonstrate they have achieved “meaningful use” of the certified EHR technology to continue to receive those payments and avoid reimbursement decreases starting in 2015.
Recently, CMS published the proposed rule for Phase 2 of the meaningful use standard in the March 7, 2012 Federal Register. Depending on the date on which the practice adopts EHR, it is likely that most physicians are currently tackling with collecting data, assessing the meaningful use measures and clinical quality measures, and attesting to its meaningful use of EHR under the Phase 1 rules.
Recently the AMA and AHA commented on the proposed Phase 2 rule. The AMA is concerned that the Phase 2 proposed rule would require extensive, inefficient manual data entry. They suggested that CMS allow physicians to opt out of a certain number of measures and clarify that physicians would not have to apply meaningful use requirements to their non-Medicare/Medicaid patients. Significantly, both the AMA and AHA oppose CMS’ use of 2013 or 2014 data to determine whether a physician would face the 2015 penalty for failing to implement EHR and show meaningful use of that technology. Physicians now await the publication of the final rule to see if CMS adopts any of these sensible suggestions.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.
Laura A. Brady is an attorney with Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., L.P.A.