On March 30, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a 73-page proposed rule for Stage 3 Meaningful Use (available here), addressing criteria that eligible professionals (“EPs”), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (“CAHs”) must meet in order to receive incentive payments and avoid payment reduction penalties.
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, CMS was authorized to implement regulations to incentivize EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs to adopt and begin to meaningfully use electronic health records (“EHR”) systems. The new proposed rule is the third set – Stage 3 – of the meaningful use regulations.
In Stage 1, CMS set out basic requirements to capture clinical data and provide certain patient access to health information. Stage 2 continued to build on data capture and introduced meaningful data exchange among health care providers with the goal of improving care coordination. Both Stages developed core and menu requirements, which, if met, could result in incentives to providers who “meaningfully used” their EHR systems.
The proposed Stage 3 rule promises to simplify the program by establishing a single set of objectives and measures that all EPs and eligible hospitals and CAHs must meet to be considered meaningful users. In 2017, attesting to this single set of objectives and measures would be optional, but would become mandatory in 2018 and beyond, regardless of prior participation in the EHR incentive program.
EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs should carefully review the new objectives set forth in the proposed rule. While the rule is subject to change through the notice and comment period (CMS is accepting comments on the proposed rule through May 29, 2015), CMS has indicated the general direction it intends to take, and providers are wise to begin to understand what CMS will expect, and what the financial implications of noncompliance will be.
We will address further details of the proposed rule and its impact in future publications. Should you have any questions regarding the proposed rule or the impact of meaningful use regulations on your practice, contact Briar Siljander or Jennifer Gross at 810-227-3103.