Proposed Bill Would Reduce Penalties, Hardship Exemptions for Meaningful Use

New proposed legislation would loosen the more stringent “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program requirements that kick in as time goes on, allowing Medicare physicians to more easily participate in the program without facing financial penalties.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) introduced the bill, H.R. 3120, in hopes that fewer physicians would need to seek hardship exemptions from meaningful use mandates, letting them stay in the program and receive the financial incentives that come with compliance in the program. Currently, physicians who don’t meet all of the meaningful use requirements face stiff financial penalties in the form of reduced Medicare reimbursement.

Physician groups have been asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to slow down meaningful use to give them more time to comply for some time. The implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) included provisions that replaced some meaningful use requirements.

According to an analysis of H.R. 3120 by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the legislation would still require physicians working in hospitals “to meet specific meaningful use criteria, but the thresholds that doctors face would not be any higher than they are today under the proposed legislation, thus making achieving of meaningful use easier in the future,” Health Data Management reported.

Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.

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