Bill suggests changes for meaningful use program

Making MU easier could keep more providers participating in the program, says Mari Savickis.

Proposed legislation could reduce the need for providers in the Medicare hospital meaningful use program to incur financial penalties, according to an analysis by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, representing chief information officers and other health IT professionals.

The proposed legislation, H.R. 3120, was introduced by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas). If enacted, the bill would result in fewer healthcare organizations needing to seek hardship exemptions from requirements of the MU program, thus enabling more providers to remain in the program, which uses incentives to encourage providers to implement and use electronic health records systems.

Under current rules, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires providers meet more meaningful use measures over time by requiring more stringent program requirements, explains Mari Savickis, vice president of federal affairs at CHIME.

Also See: Proposed CMS rule cuts it close for meaningful use

Under the proposed legislation, a provision in current legislation that governs the MU program would eliminate increasingly stringent measures that are established for providers if they want to continue to participate in the program; providers that no longer meet requirements and drop from the program face financial penalties in the form of reductions of Medicare reimbursements.

Medicare physicians working in hospitals would still have to meet specific meaningful use criteria, but the thresholds that doctors face would not be any higher than they are today under the proposed legislation, thus making achieving of meaningful use easier in the future, CHIME's analysis suggests.

Just because thresholds are lower does not mean that providers are giving a lower quality of care, Savickis contends.

MACRA modified the HITECH program by sun-setting the Physician Quality Reporting System, value-based modifier and meaningful use programs for hospital physicians, and created the Quality Payment program that assesses the performance and reimbursement status of physicians based on costs, quality, data exchange and improvement activities, Savickis says.

Thus, meaningful use now applies only to Medicare hospitals and Medicaid providers, she adds.

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