The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) intends to implement a “complete overhaul” of federal payment programs that require hospitals and many physicians to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) technology in order to avoid Medicare penalties. This announcement was made by CMS Administrator Seema Verma March 6 during her remarks at an annual conference hosted by the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
Verma told conference attendees CMS is planning to make changes to the EHR Incentive Programs and to the Advancing Care Information performance category of the Quality Payment Program in order to reduce the time and cost required for providers to comply with these CMS programs and to focus on “increased interoperability and giving patients access to their data across all [CMS] programs.”
CMS’s announcement comes less than a month after enactment of the federal Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which removed the statutory requirement that CMS make the meaningful use requirements of the Medicare EHR Incentive Program more stringent over time. (See 2/16/18 Valued Voice article.)
Over the years, WHA has engaged CMS on the meaningful use reporting requirements of the EHR Incentive Programs and Quality Payment Program, expressing support for Congress’s and CMS’s vision of widespread use of interoperable EHRs to support improved clinical care, better coordination of care, and fully informed and engaged patients. As CMS implements changes to the EHR Incentive Programs and Quality Payment Program in 2018 and future years, WHA looks forward to continuing to engage CMS in the development of policies that provide hospitals and physicians with greater flexibility and less regulatory burden.
Also during her remarks at the HIMSS conference, Verma unveiled “MyHealthEData,” a new CMS initiative for EHR interoperability. As explained in a press release issued by CMS March 6, “MyHealthEData will help to break down the barriers that prevent patients from having electronic access and true control of their own health records from the device or application of their choice.” As part of this new initiative, Verma announced a new CMS tool called “Blue Button 2.0.” CMS describes this tool as “a new and secure way for Medicare beneficiaries to access their personal health data in a universal digital format.” According to CMS, more than 100 organizations have agreed to use Blue Button 2.0 to develop applications “that will provide innovative new tools to help [Medicare] patients manage their health.”
For more information, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, at email@example.com or 608-274-1820.