Friday, February 24, 2012

ONC, CMS Release Meaningful Use Proposed Regulations; Public Comment Requested

The Department of Health and Human Services released two notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) related to Stage 2 Meaningful Use: the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs that detail proposed expectations for providers and the Standards & Certification Criteria (S&CC) that delineate proposed requirements for certified EHR products.

The announcement of the second stage of the three stage process, reflects the desire to create ambitious, but achievable goals that enable eligible professionals and hospitals to make incremental progress in adopting and implementing electronic health records (EHRs). The three stages are:
- Stage 1 (which began in 2011 and remains the starting point for all providers): "meaningful use" consists of transferring data to EHRs and being able to share information, including electronic copies and visit summaries for patients.
- Stage 2 (to be implemented in 2014 under the proposed rule): "meaningful use" includes standards such as online access for patients to their health information and electronic health information exchange between providers.
- Stage 3 (expected to be implemented in 2016): "meaningful use" includes demonstrating that the quality of health care has been improved.

The proposed rules focus on using EHRs to improve health and health care while reducing the burden on physicians and hospitals where possible. CMS' proposed rule would specify the Stage 2 criteria that eligible providers must meet in order to qualify for Medicare and/or Medicaid EHR incentive payments. It also would specify Medicare payment adjustments that, beginning in 2015, providers will face if they fail to demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology and to meet other program participation requirements. In addition, as announced in a November 2011 "We Can't Wait" announcement, Stage 1 has been extended an additional year for providers who attested in 2011 – meaning that these providers will have to attest to Stage 2 in 2014, instead of in 2013.

The proposed rule announced by ONC identifies standards and criteria for the certification of EHR technology, so eligible professionals and hospitals can be sure that the systems they adopt are capable of performing the required functions to demonstrate either stage of meaningful use that would be in effect starting in 2014. Together, these rules will encourage even more providers to participate and support more coordinated, patient-centered care.

The NPRMs represent proposals; public comment is open for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Final rules are expected to be released this summer.

For more information on the Stage 2 Meaningful Use NPRM, visit

Source: HHS News Release

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