September 12, 2012
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Health Law Alert: CMS Issues EHR Meaningful Use Stage 2 Final Rule
In March, we reported that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had issued a proposed rule on Stage 2 meaningful use requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. Under the EHR program, which was mandated by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, $30 billion of direct incentive payments were set aside for eligible providers (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) that meet the EHR meaningful use standards. According to the latest statistics, as of February 2012, a total of $3.1 billion in incentives have been paid to nearly 2,000 hospitals and more than 41,000 physicians.
CMS has now released a final rule specifying Stage 2 criteria beginning in 2014 as well as introducing changes to the program timeline and detail on Medicare payment adjustments. CMS has also published a “Tip sheet” summarizing the final rule.
STAGE 2 FINAL MEANINGFUL USE OBJECTIVES (CORE & MENU) AND MEASURES
New Core Objectives
CMS also replaced the previous Stage 1 core objectives (required of EPs, eligible hospitals and CAHs) to provide electronic copies of health information or discharge instructions and provide timely access to health information with objectives that allow patients to access their health information online. The modified objective under Stage 2 requires the following:
New Menu Objectives
Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs)
Beginning in 2014, all Medicare-eligible providers beyond their first year of demonstrating meaningful use must electronically report their CQM data to CMS.
MEDICARE PAYMENT ADJUSTMENTS
Although CMS originally proposed three “hardship” exceptions to these payment adjustments, it finalized four (for EPs). The original three exceptions CMS proposed include exceptions based on poor geographic infrastructure (e.g., lack of broadband in the practice area), newly practicing EPs who would not otherwise be able to avoid payment adjustments and unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters. The new exception is by specialty/provider type concentrated among three specialties: anesthesiology, radiology and pathology. This fourth exception requires the EP to demonstrate that he/she lacks interaction with patients, lacks follow up with patients or lacks control over the availability of Certified EHR Technology at their practice (and practices at more than one location). Infrastructure, unforeseen circumstances, and new CAHs/eligible hospitals are also exception categories for eligible hospitals and CAHs.
If you have any questions about the EHR incentive program or the Stage 2 final rule, please contact Jeremy Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org - 612.632.3035 or Jesse Berg at email@example.com - 612.632.3374.
This article is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. You are urged to consult a lawyer concerning any specific legal questions you may have.
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