On January 29, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its intent to engage in rulemaking to update the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs beginning in 2015.

As explained by Patrick Conway, CMS Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality and Chief Medical Officer, in an agency blog post, the new rule “would be intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns.”  “It would also be intended to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011.”

More specifically, CMS is considering proposals to:

  • Shorten the 2015 reporting period to 90 days;
  • Realign hospital reporting periods to the calendar year; and
  • Modify other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burdens.

In recent months, various provider organizations have urged CMS to shorten the 2015 reporting period.  And, last September, members of Congress introduced a bill — Flexibility in Health IT Reporting (Flex-IT) Act of 2014
— to shorten the 2015 reporting period to 90 days.  That bill was reintroduced this January.

The new rule is expected this Spring.  It will be separate from the Stage 3 proposed rule, which is expected by early March.