A final rule setting the Medicare physician fee schedule for calendar year 2010 does not align reporting requirements for the PQRI pay-for-performance program and the forthcoming Medicare/Medicaid incentive programs for meaningful use of electronic health records. Department of Health and Human Services officials, however, note in the rule that alignments to make reporting for both programs easier is being considered.

The final rule includes comments from the proposed rule along with HHS' responses. Several comments asked for better alignment of reporting requirements. One comment suggested HHS advocate to the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology for the inclusion of PQRI reporting capabilities in EHR certification criteria.

HHS' response to the comments: "Any EHR quality data submission will be required to comply with all current regulations regarding privacy and security. 'Meaningful use' criteria will be reviewed as they are finalized and we will endeavor to align our work in the future, as appropriate. However, since meaningful use criteria has not yet been finalized, this comment is currently beyond the scope of this final rule."

The rule, published Nov. 25 in the Federal Register, is available at gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.

--Joseph Goedert

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