On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee passed by voice vote the Electronic Health Fairness Act (HR 887), which would exempt ambulatory surgical centers from the meaningful use program, Politico‘s “Morning eHealth” reports (Gold et al., “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 2/27).
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
Under the meaningful use program, eligible professionals must conduct at least 50% of outpatient visits at facilities with a certified EHR to qualify for the incentive payment program.
According to FierceEMR, physicians who work at ambulatory surgical centers are at a disadvantage in meeting these qualifications because there are currently no certified EHR systems for those facilities (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 2/24). Further, there are no mandates that ambulatory surgical centers use EHR systems, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT does not have a certification program tailored to the centers (“Morning eHealth,” Politico, 2/27).
The bill, introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), aims to ease meaningful use requirements for such professionals. Specifically, it would change the way meaningful use eligibility is determined by exempting patient encounters at ambulatory surgical centers providers opt to include them.
The legislation would become void when certified EHRs for ambulatory surgical centers are available (FierceEMR, 2/24).