The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently proposed a rule amending the implementation timeline for “meaningful use” of electronic health records (“EHR”) and granting providers flexibility in complying with the 2014 requirements. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program offers financial incentives to providers who achieve certain benchmarks and show they are achieving the “meaningful use” of EHR to improve patient care, and in 2015, CMS will begin to penalize providers who have not achieved such meaningful use.
The proposed rule would formalize an announcement CMS made in December 2013 that it planned to add a third year to Stage 2 of implementation for 2016, and delay the beginning of Stage 3 until 2017. This change comes in the wake of ongoing requests by physicians and other providers to slow down the implementation so that providers have an opportunity to comply with each stage. CMS stated the delay will allow it to focus on ensuring that providers have complied with Stage 2 before moving on to Stage 3.
The proposed rule also allows providers to use their 2011 edition-certified EHR or a combination of the 2011 edition and 2014 edition-certified EHR in order to obtain incentive payments and avoid penalties in 2015. Some providers experienced difficulty upgrading their systems to the 2014 edition. There are three notable exceptions to this brief reprieve. First, providers will be required to upgrade to the 2014 edition for 2015 and in subsequent years, unless new certification requirements are adopted. Second, providers who have not yet purchased EHR must implement the 2014 edition by the 2015 reporting deadline. Third, this option is available for the Medicare incentive program only. Providers seeking Medicaid incentives in 2014 will have to upgrade to the 2014 edition.
CMS is accepting comments on this proposed rule until July 21
The text of the proposed rule is located here.
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