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.