Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 16 would mandate a 90-day reporting period in 2015 for Stages 1 and 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health records incentive programs.

Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) are sponsors of H.R. 5481, the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act, or Flex-IT Act.

The one-paragraph bill would require that the Department of Health and Human Services “shall continue through 2015 (in the case of eligible professionals) and fiscal year 2015 (in the case of eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals) to permit the use of a 3-month quarter EHR reporting period to demonstrate meaningful use for purposes of such part, without regard to the payment year or the stage of meaningful use criteria involved.”

To secure passage of the Flex-IT Act, the bill likely would be attached to pertinent legislation moving through Congress. Such a vehicle may soon be available as Congress prepares for debate and passage of a continuing resolution bill for emergency appropriations. Earlier this year, legislation to stop a huge Medicare payment cut for physicians became a vehicle for other pet projects, including a one-year delay in the ICD-10 compliance date.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives praised introduction of the Flex-IT Act bill. “With just two weeks remaining in the fiscal year, Congress’ swift passage of the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act would help hundreds of thousands of providers meet Stage 2 requirements in an effective and safe manner, and ensure long-term viability of the program itself,” the association said in a statement.

CHIME joined 16 other provider associations on Sept. 15 in sending a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell asking for a 90-day reporting period, “which would give time for providers to continue their transition without having to drop out of the program.”

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