A group of Republican senators, led by South Dakota’s John Thune, have introduced legislation to reduce reporting periods within the EHR Incentive Programs and the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to 90 days.
“Health information technology, especially the advancements in electronic health records, is an integral part of the future of America’s health care delivery system,” Thune said. “Our bill ensures that unnecessary regulatory burdens do not continue to negatively affect providers’ ability to leverage technology to improve patient care.”
On July 6, CMS had proposed a change in the reporting periods to require critical access hospitals and other eligible facilities and providers to attest to meaningful use for 90 days, rather than a full year. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, one of the co-sponsors of the new HER Regulatory Relief Act, said making the change through Congress will give hospitals some extra certainty that the shortened reporting periods are “here to stay.”
“This legislation will help ease the burden of the meaningful use program for doctors and hospitals who have told me they want to spend more time caring for patients instead of trying to comply with government regulations,” Alexander said. “Specifically, it will give hospitals the same flexibility that Congress passed for doctors with overwhelming bipartisan support last April.”
A similar proposal was introduced in the House in April, but has failed to advance out of committee. Thune said this version was crafted with input from HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt.
Beyond the reporting change, the bill would eliminate meaningful use’s pass-fail methodology, and would extend the current hardship exemptions for providers in 2016 and 2017.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It won’t have a chance to advance for at least seven weeks because Congress will be on recess until after Labor Day.