HIMSS is urging its members to contact their representatives in Congress now and ask them to support legislation to mandate a 90-day reporting period for electronic health records meaningful use in 2015.

Lawmakers have begun the “lame-duck” session, trying to wrap up work on legislation before adjournment of the 113th Congress. Any bills not approved by the House and Senate when Congress formally adjourns on January 3 will die and must be reintroduced in the new 114th Congress.

Under current law, the meaningful use reporting period in fiscal and calendar year 2015 is a full year and many providers are not ready for a full year of reporting. Stakeholders have urged the Department of Health and Human Services multiple times to permit a 90-day reporting process and have been rebuffed. Consequently, they have sought relief from Congress.

HIMSS is asking members to press their representative to approve H.R. 5481, introduced in September by Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah).  The one-paragraph bill would require that HHS “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.”

If support quickly builds in Congress, the bill could be passed in a standalone vote, but more likely would be tacked onto a larger bill that is moving through the houses.  Further, a change in the reporting period could come even without a vote if there is enough demand for change, HIMSS is telling members. “Even without this bill passing, with enough Congressional support CMS may be persuaded to change the current policy.”

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