Home > EHR, meaningful use, Medicare > Additional Meeting with ONC and CMS on Meaningful Use and Hospital-Located Eligible Professionals

Additional Meeting with ONC and CMS on Meaningful Use and Hospital-Located Eligible Professionals

Earlier today, representatives from the American College of Radiology (ACR), Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA), Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), and Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA) met again with the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC) to discuss Medicare EHR Incentive Program (“meaningful use,” or MU) compliance concerns specific to eligible professionals (EPs) in certain hospital settings.  This time, the National Coordinator for HIT, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) staff participated in the discussions.  The meeting was a follow-up to the December 12 meeting on the same topic, as well as (to a certain degree) to ACR’s October 12 meeting on radiology and MU.

The four stakeholder organizations reiterated the need for assistance for EPs who are located in community hospitals but are not “hospital-based” as defined by the EHR Incentive Program regulations.  These physicians are eligible for the program, and therefore open to future penalties for noncompliance, despite generally not having any influence over technology and data availability in the hospital(s) they service.

To help, the four stakeholder organizations have requested: 1)  more guidance from the agencies on hospital/practice collaboration; and, 2) creation of a significant hardship exemption option that could be applied for by hospital-located physicians who are not enabled by their facilities and/or circumstance to comply.  The significant hardship exemption mechanism is mandated by the existing statute, and CMS is expected to work on defining the options and processes in future rulemakings between now and 2015.  Unfortunately, the current statute also specifies limitations requiring EPs to apply annually for a maximum of five years if they wish to obtain the exemption.  Thus, without legislative intervention to remove the limitations, the significant hardship exemption can only be a temporary reprieve from the EHR Incentive Program penalties.

Later in the discussions, ACR and RBMA reiterated the need for patients’ imaging information to be included in electronic health records and part of MU.  MGMA also discussed the desire for a group compliance option as an alternative to individual-level MU compliance.

The CMS and ONC Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) for Stage 2 MU are expected to be published for public comment sometime around February 2012.

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Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

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