Draft federal legislation to amend the Medicare physician payment formula also calls for nationwide interoperable EHRs by the end of 2017.
Section 9(c) of the draft bill would declare it a “national objective to achieve widespread exchange of health information through interoperable certified EHR technology nationwide by December 31, 2017.” Not later than July 2015, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to establish metrics to measure progress toward that goal. If the goal is not reached by December 2017, the Secretary must report to Congress on the barriers to interoperable EHRs and recommended responses. The Secretary may recommend actions such as adjusting payments for failure to demonstrate meaningful use of an EHR and decertifying certain EHR products.
Lawmakers released the draft physician payment bill in early February but did not include offsets. With the current physician payment fix set to expire on March 31, 2014, Congress is under pressure to find those pay-fors and to pass a bill within the next month.
In the meantime, CMS announced recently that it has distributed nearly $21 billion in EHR incentive payments to 340,000 Medicare and Medicaid eligible professionals.