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  • Washington Highlights

    CMS and ONC Finalize Meaningful Use and CEHRT Rules

    Len Marquez, Senior Director, Government Relations

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Oct. 6 issued a final rule with comment period defining the third stage of “meaningful use” for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive programs. The agency also included finalized requirements for Meaning Use (MU) in 2015 through 2017 in this rule.

    Additionally, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released the 2015 Edition Health Information Technology (Health IT) Certification Criteria, Base Electronic Health Record (EHR) Definition, and ONC Health IT Certification Program Modifications final rule (referred to as “CEHRT”) on the same day.

    The final meaningful use rule defines the requirements that hospitals and eligible professionals (EPs) must meet to avoid downward payment adjustments under the EHR Incentive Program. The criteria CMS finalized for Stage 3 aims at increasing interoperability among EHRs and increasing the focus on patient outcomes to improve care.

    The final rule allows providers an additional 27 months to comply with the Stage 3 requirements. Stage 3 will be optional for 2017; however, all providers must meet these requirements starting Jan. 1, 2018. Providers meeting Stage 3 in 2017 will have a 90-day reporting period. Those starting in 2018 will have a full year reporting period.

    Regarding the MU 2015-2017 requirements, EPs must meet ten objectives, including one related to public health reporting, and hospitals would need to meet nine objectives. For Stage 3, EPs and hospitals would both need to meet eight objectives. CMS also finalized its proposal to allow reporting of clinical quality measures (CQMs) via attestation in 2017 and a requirement that CQMs be electronically submitted in 2018.

    In addition to providing a comment period on the final rule, the agency requests feedback on incorporating meaningful use requirements for EPs into the Merit-Based Incentive Program (MIPS) created by the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA, P.L. 114-10).

    The 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria, Base EHR Definition, and ONC Health IT Certification Program Modifications final rule includes provisions for increased testing of health IT exchange capabilities, establishing requirements for field surveillance and the transparency of health IT, and makes detailed information about certified health IT publicly available through an open data certified health IT product list.

    The final rule also includes updates regarding the accessibility and exchange of data by including new data export, transitions of care, and application programming interface capabilities in the 2015 Edition Base EHR definition.

    Additionally, ONC’s final rule provides certification standards for more granular capture of race and ethnicity data and for the collection of sexual orientation, gender identity, social, psychological, and behavioral data.