Clarification on Physician Eligibility for Meaningful Use

President Obama signed into law today the “Continuing Extension Act of 2010” (HR 4851), which extends through May 31 the current freeze in Medicare physician payments. Among an assortment of other amendments, however, was one that revises language in the HITECH Act to clarify the definition of a hospital-based physician for purposes of the meaningful use incentive program. Hospital-based physicians were ineligible for the program, with some exceptions, as defined by the notice of proposed rulemaking published in January.

Section 6 of the law replaces the original HITECH language “setting (whether inpatient or outpatient)” with the phrase “inpatient or emergency room setting.” The amended text now reads in full:

“The term ‘hospital-based’ means, with respect to an eligible professional, a professional (such as a pathologist, anesthesiologist, or emergency physician) who furnishes substantially all of the individual’s professional services in a hospital inpatient or emergency room setting and through the use of the facilities and equipment, electronic health records, of the hospital.”

For more on qualification requirements, see the story “Qualifying for Meaningful Use.”

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