The Electronic Health Fairness Act of 2015, introduced by US Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), would exempt patient encounters performed in an ASC from being counted toward meaningful use of EHRs until such time as a CEHRT exists for the ASC setting. The legislation would also authorize the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to certify an EHR system for ASCs. The legislation passed in the US Senate on August 5, 2015.
The House version of this bill, introduced by US Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and David Scott (D-GA), passed on June 17th, as part of a larger legislative package.
Congress passed the HITECH Act of 2009 to incentivize Medicare providers to adopt and use EHR systems.
Unfortunately, ASCs were not eligible for HITECH funds to develop EHR systems, and no certified EHR is currently available for ASC encounters.
Under the current program, physicians had to attest by October 1, 2014 that they are “meaningful users” of a certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) product. Those who did not attest may be subject to penalties (reductions to their professional fees) in 2015.
At least 50% of physicians’ patient encounters must occur in settings with a CEHRT to meet the current meaningful use requirements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidance indicates that this threshold will go up in the coming years.
CMS guidance indicates that patient encounters in the ASC setting should be included to determine whether the 50% threshold is met, even though there is no CEHRT option available in the ASC setting. This may dissuade physicians from bringing patients to ASCs—often a lower-cost option— if they are concerned they may have their professional fee cut because they are close to the 50% threshold.
For more information on current EHR regulations, click here.
The Electronic Health Fairness Act would exempt patient encounters performed in an ASC from being counted toward meaningful use of EHRs until such time as a CEHRT exists for the ASC setting.
Since certification standards have not been developed for ASCs yet, this legislation would also authorize the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to certify an EHR system for ASCs.
Allowing physicians to perform procedures in ASCs without fear of being penalized encourages them to continue to choose the lowest-cost, high-quality setting of care. We encourage all members of the US House of Representatives to offer their support to H.R. 887.
Click here to tell your representative to cosponsor this critical legislation, protecting your center and patients.