Congressional Representatives Renee Ellmers (R-NC), David Scott (D-Ga.), Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) are co-sponsors on H.R. 270, a bill that would shorten the 2015 Meaningful Use Program (MU) reporting period from 356 days to 90 days. The bill would make it easier for eligible providers to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic medical records (EMR) and qualify for Medicare and Medicaid electronic health records (EHR) incentive program payments.
The Flex-IT Act (The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act) is a re-introduction of a bill originally introduced bill during the 113th Congress in September 2014, and has support from medical organizations including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Healthcare Information Management Systems Society and Medical Group Management Association.
Rep. Ellmers issued a written statement that says the timelines provided by Health and Human Services (HHS) “are inflexible and simply unmanageable. It’s hard to comprehend how HHS can move forward to full-year reporting when the numbers for 90-day reporting are so low.” Her statement noted that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had indicated some 50 percent of eligible physicians are currently facing fines.
CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell also issued a statement reiterating his organization’s commitment to the success of MU and improved patient care “We believe significant changes are needed to address increased dissatisfaction with (EMRs),” he wrote. CHIME, he added, believes Flex-IT “if passed, would begin that much-needed course correction.”
If the Flex-IT Act passes, providers will be able to choose any 90-day period in 2015 to qualify to meet Meaningful Use requirements. Supporters of the legislation cite the increased flexibility it offers providers as an opportunity to build on existing investments in EMRs while continuing progress toward the ultimate goals of enhanced care coordination and interoperability. And when it comes to health IT, anything healthcare administrators and professionals can do to leverage EMRs to those ends will enhance patient care and healthcare cost savings.