A group of Republican senators recently introduced a Bill S.3173 at the House, called the Electronic Health Regulatory Relief Act, which is aimed at decreasing the burden of Medicare Meaningful Use payment adjustments.
The Meaningful Use program is criticized much for putting unnecessary burden on hospitals and doctors, especially in rural markets. Many of the providers are struggling hard to cope with the MU program.
Though MACRA replaced EHR MU program, and the reporting year and payment year of MACRA is 2017 and 2019 respectively, the eligible providers are still subject to the EHR Meaningful Use in 2016 for the payment year 2018. This will be the last year of MU program and the senators are trying to make things easy for the providers.
There are mainly three proposals in the bill to reform the EHR MU reporting:
- EHR MU had an all or nothing approach, which is removed by the new Bill. Instead of that, the Bill introduces a threshold that the eligible entities need to meet. The eligible entities need to meet the threshold somewhere in the range of 50 to 70 to get reimbursement and avoid penalties.
- The Bill decreased the Meaningful Use 2016 reporting period of 365 days to 90 consecutive days. The Bill also changes EHR reporting period of MIPS program from 365 to 90 days.
- It offers improved flexibility in hardship exceptions that is mainly faced by the small-scale service providers. Hardship exceptions include inadequate internet connectivity, lack of face-to-face patient interactions, and inability to fund EHR program.
Small market and rural providers are facing much difficulty in adjusting with the requirement of Meaningful Use reporting system. To meet the Meaningful Use requirements, the providers need to spend significant amount of capital to buy accepted EHR technology. In addition to that, inputting all the data to the EHR system takes much time for new users.
Even though the authors quote examples of providers located in rural areas to justify the changes, some experts claim that the scope of the Bill is not confined to the small and rural market providers.