This week, following advocacy from ASCRS•ASOA, its members—notably during the recent Alliance of Specialty Medicine Fly-In—and others in the medical community, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) introduced H.R. 3309 , the Further Flexibility in HIT Reporting and Advancing Interoperability Act. Specifically, the bill prohibits the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from proceeding with its current Meaningful Use Stage 3 proposed rule or any new meaningful use or EHR certification criteria until either 75% of eligible professionals successfully attest to Stage 2 or CMS issues rulemaking regarding the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) which was created under H.R. 2, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) repeal bill. ASCRS•ASOA and others in the medical community have argued CMS’ Stage 3 proposed rule sets measure thresholds too high, especially patient engagement and portal measures, and is counterintuitive when CMS is also proposing to provide much-needed flexibility for Stages 1 and 2 in 2015-2017.
Rep. Ellmers’ bill includes additional provisions advocated for by ASCRS•ASOA and the medical community, including:
- Setting a three-month reporting period for all years and stages of meaningful use;
- Eliminating the “all-or-nothing” approach and providing for a sliding scale to reflect eligible professionals’ partial achievement of meaningful use;
- Giving credit for participation in qualified clinical data registries;
- Expanding eligibility for hardship exemptions including for older physicians near retirement, technical difficulties caused by EHR vendors, and excluding certain specialties, such as pathologists, who have trouble achieving current measures; and
- Providing for expanded review of more stringent proposed measures.
Legislation to delay Stage 3 is also being developed in the Senate and is expected to be released in the early fall. ASCRS and the Alliance of Specialty Medicine will be meeting with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the coming weeks to push for action on the delay of Stage 3. We will keep you updated.