In March of this year, Republican Representative Diane Black of Tennessee introduced a new bill seeking to lift some requirements for eligible professionals (EPs) participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. The Electronic Health Records Improvement Act House Bill HR 1331 seeks to amend reimbursement penalties for some EPs under hardship provisions, and proposes changes to the current timetable of meeting meaningful use criteria. Included in Bill HR 1331 are the following recommendations:
- Exempt some solo EPs and physicians nearing retirement from Medicare EHR incentive reimbursement penalties for certain payment years.
- Establish a rebate process for EPs who receive a negative adjustment to their Medicare EHR incentive payments for failure to establish an EHR process under the current timetable but subsequently meet criteria for meaningful use of certified EHR technology.
- Add as a criterion for meeting meaningful use that an EP uses a qualified national specialty registry system that measures quality improvement or improves patient safety.
- Extend the current timetable of Medicare EHR incentives and reimbursement penalties for EPs practicing in rural health clinics.
- Create a process for EPs to appeal if it is determined they did not qualify as a meaningful user of certified EHR technology.
On May 30, 2013, the American Medical Association threw support for the bill in its letter to Rep. Black, though asking for more clarification in establishing a national specialty register:
In addition to the hardship exemptions, we believe H.R. 1331 will help make improvements to the meaningful use program by limiting the back-dating of the program requirements to one year, expanding options for participation in the meaningful use incentive program, exempting physicians from meeting certain measures not within their scope of practice, and establishing a formal appeals program prior to the application of meaningful use penalties. We believe additional consideration is needed regarding language in the bill related to national specialty registries and look forward to working with you and other stakeholders to seek clarification.
Bill HR 1331 is currently under review by the Subcommittee on Health under the Committee on Ways and Means.