On Thursday, January 29, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it intends to engage in rulemaking this spring to address issues related to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. The issues that CMS identified for potential inclusion in this rulemaking include:
- Shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days to address provider concerns about their ability to fully deploy 2014 Edition software
- Realigning hospital reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other quality programs
- Modifying other aspects of the programs to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burden
This news originated in a blog that Patrick Conway, MD—CMS Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality and CMS Chief Medical Officer—published earlier in the day. Dr. Conway stated that the new rulemaking is intended:
“to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015. It would also be intended to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011.”
Dr. Conway also clarified that CMS was working on multiple tracks to realign the program according to its goals while being responsive to stakeholder input. In addition, he emphasized that these changes reflect the Department of Health and Human Services’ commitment to creating a health IT infrastructure that elevates patient-centered care, improves health outcomes, and supports providers who deliver care to patients.
Moreover, CMS underscored that this more general programmatic rulemaking would not be included in the Meaningful Use Stage 3 Rule expected to be released in the coming weeks. The agency wants to limit the scope of that rule to strictly Stage 3 issues and meaningful use in 2017 and beyond.