Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill that would ease federal requirements that professionals seeing patients at ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) “meaningfully use” certified electronic health records (EHRs). The measure would sunset after certified EHR technology is applicable to the ASC setting.

The meaningful use program requires certain Medicare-participating providers to adopt and use EHRs or face reduced Medicare reimbursements. Eligible professionals who have over 50 percent of their patient encounters at locations with certified EHR technology calculate meaningful use measures based on the encounters at such locations. Supporters of the Senate legislation argue that physicians treating patients at ASCs are at a disadvantage because there are no EHRs certified specifically for use in ASCs.

The Electronic Health Fairness Act of 2015 (S. 1347), would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to temporarily disregard ASC encounters when determining whether an eligible professional qualifies as a meaningful user. Such encounters would not be factored into the meaningful use calculation until three years after the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines that certified EHR technology is applicable to the ASC setting.

A similar bill of the same name has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and was reported by the House Committee on Ways and Means on March 13, 2015. The House provision was also included in H.R. 2570, the Strengthening Medicare Advantage through Innovation and Transparency for Seniors Act of 2015, which passed the House in June.

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Photo of Paige Jennings Paige Jennings

Paige Jennings is an associate in Covington’s Washington office. She works with the firm’s Federal–State Programs, Health Care, Antitrust, and Litigation practice groups. Ms. Jennings joined the firm after a number of years working on health policy matters in the government and private…

Paige Jennings is an associate in Covington’s Washington office. She works with the firm’s Federal–State Programs, Health Care, Antitrust, and Litigation practice groups. Ms. Jennings joined the firm after a number of years working on health policy matters in the government and private sectors. Prior to earning her law degree and Master of Public Affairs, she worked in the U.S. Senate for over four years, advising Senators John Breaux and Tom Carper on health and social policy matters. Ms. Jennings later handled federal health policy issues at WellPoint, Inc. During law school, she worked with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget during consideration of the Affordable Care Act, and with the Federal Trade Commission for then-Chairman Jon Leibowitz.