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Newsletter Article


Federal Officials Release Health IT Rules

By Rebecca Adams, CQ Roll Call

March 20, 2015 -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined in a recently proposed rule the criteria that doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers need to meet in order to win Medicaid incentive payments and avoid Medicare cuts.

The proposal fleshes out the agency's expectations for providers during the third and final stage of the so-called meaningful use rules for electronic medical records. Providers that participate would typically need to comply by 2018.

Providers would have a choice of starting the third phase of the initiative, known as Stage 3, in either 2017 or 2018, which gives providers an extra year to start than under current regulation. The proposed rule would realign the reporting period into a single one for all providers starting in 2017. Hospitals will participate in the calendar year instead of the fiscal year.

The proposal removes some measures that are redundant or that most providers have already adopted. It would cut the overall number of objectives for providers to eight goals that focus on the advanced use of medical records.

"It helps simplify the meaningful use program, advances the use of health IT toward our vision for improving health delivery, and further aligns the program with other quality and value programs," said Patrick Conway, CMS acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer. "And, in an effort to make reporting easier for health care providers, we will be proposing a new meaningful use reporting deadline soon."

HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology also released separate regulations that would update the certification program for healthcare information technology, which helps providers be sure that the software they purchase meets the standards needed for them to comply with CMS rules.

The public has until May 29 to comment on both regulations.

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