When Greenway Health co-founded the national Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) more than a decade ago, it was one of only a handful of health IT companies that came together to represent the best interests of our provider customers and their patients.
This presence in our nation’s capital became more important with the passing of the HITECH Act in 2009 that brought the meaningful use program, and again in 2010 with the Affordable Care Act, which led to public and private accountable care organizations and new payment models for providers. Together, these initiatives increased provider reliance on advanced HIT not only for day-to-day care delivery but for data collection and reporting necessary to ensure appropriate reimbursement for meeting established quality standards.
Today, 40 companies comprise the association, and its reach has also grown among the federal agencies and Congressional committees being interacted with, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Earlier this month, Greenway Health joined a select group of association members on Capitol Hill to meet with these agencies to discuss national care delivery priorities and the advancement of HIT as part of the critical foundation for care coordination.
Discussed were the growing demands around interoperability, the handling of public health emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak, new patient safety best practices, and the alignment of quality reporting programs challenging providers as they work to meet new payment models.
Congressional and policy horizon, and the year of payment adjustments
In the coming weeks, ONC is slated to publish a long-term roadmap on interoperability approaches and technologies impacting health IT certification and product innovation. In conjunction, CMS is finalizing — also for public comment — its benchmark rules for providers on Stage 3 of the meaningful use program. Together, these oversight policies will impact providers and health IT systems well into the next decade.
Congressional movement is also keeping pace. A 2014 bill to allow a 90-day meaningful use reporting period yet this year has been re-introduced to the new Congress as HR 270. The bill has picked up 10 bipartisan co-sponsors.
And 2015 is also the year of further payment adjustments, beyond the 250,000 providers experiencing meaningful use penalties. This year, the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) program also moves from one of incentives to payment adjustments and the new value-based modifier (VBM) compounds these penalties over time.
Relief could come by the end of March 2015, as new bipartisan hearings are underway this month to resurrect last year’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Modernization Act meant to replace annual Medicare “doc fix” patches with a long-term quality payment program. As drafted, it would align meaningful use, PQRS and the VBM into one quality reporting scoring program infused with new incentives over-riding the payment adjustments underway individually. Congress faces a March 31 deadline to do so.
These are just some examples of the legislation and policy initiatives underway in Washington impacting providers and their health IT systems that Greenway Health — through the EHR Association and other initiatives — continues to monitor and work to positively impact on behalf of providers and those they serve.