CMS to ease MU2 reporting requirements

January 30, 2015

Responding to pressure from physicians, hospitals and lawmakers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to give electronic health record (EHR) users more flexibility in meeting the requirements of its meaningful use program.

Responding to pressure from physicians, hospitals and lawmakers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to give electronic health record (EHR) users more flexibility in meeting the requirements of its meaningful use program.

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Patrick Conway, MD, CMS’ chief medical officer and deputy administrator for innovation and quality, said CMS plans to develop a rule intended to shorten the 2015 EHR reporting period from a full year to 90 days. According to Conway the rule also will:

  • realign hospital EHR reporting period to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 edition software into their workflows and better along with other CMS quality programs, and

  • modify other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, and reduce complexity and lessen providers’ reporting burdens

Conway announced the intended rule change in a January 29 blog posting on CMS’ website. He added that the changes are separate from a proposed rule for Stage 3 of the meaningful use program. “CMS intends to limit the scope of the Stage 3 proposed rule to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years,” he wrote.

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Observers speculate that the announcement was driven at least in part by the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act, which was first proposed in September 2014 and reintroduced in January of this year in the U.S. House of Representatives. That legislation, which had bipartisan co-sponsorship, would allow providers to choose any three-month period to attest to meaningful use requirements.

As of December, only 4% of eligible providers had successfully met the requirements for the second stage of the meaningful use program.

CMS’ announcement won praise from groups representing physicians and the health IT sector. “The American Medical Association [AMA] welcomes the CMS announcement of plans to address some of the issues we have raised with the Meaningful Use program through rulemaking aimed at requirements for meeting Meaningful Use in 2015,” AMA president Steven J. Stack, MD, said in a written statement.

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The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) said it is “encouraged” by the CMS announcement. “MGMA has been a strong advocate for CMS to increase program flexibility…We urge CMS to expedite the release of its 90-day reporting provision to give physician practices the confidence they need to continue participating in this program,” Anders Gilberg, the association’s senior vice president,  government affairs, said in a written statement. “The number of eligible professionals successfully attesting for Stage 2 of the program in 2014 were sharply down from those attesting for Stage 1, making significant changes to Meaningful Use essential."