The Health and Human Services Department Issues Final Rules on "Meaningful Use" and EHR Certification
Two agencies within the Health and Human Services Department issued two new final rules on July 13, 2010, regarding electronic health records (EHRs). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final rule on incentives for “meaningful use” of EHR, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced its final rule on certification standards for EHR.
Under the new rules – and their authorizing statute, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act – eligible professionals and hospitals can qualify for incentive payments beginning in 2011 when they adopt certified EHR technology and satisfy “meaningful use” criteria. Eligible professionals and hospitals have three years to achieve compliance; the incentives disappear and noncompliant providers will face cuts in their Medicare payments beginning in 2015. The final rule from CMS defines the “meaningful use” standards that providers must meet in order to qualify for incentive payments, and the ONC final rule identifies the technical requirements for EHR certification.
The law does not include occupational therapists in its definition of eligible professional, limiting it to physicians. AOTA submitted comments on this point, as well as others, to each agency earlier this year (CMS comments, ONC comments).
CMS directly addressed AOTA’s comments in the comment and response section of the final rule, and acknowledged the desire of occupational therapists to be included in the definition of eligible professionals (display copy, pp. 370, 372). Because the term is defined by statute, AOTA must turn to Congress to address this issue. Our advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill continue.
For additional information, see:
CMS Fact Sheets
CMS Website on EHR Incentives
HHS/ONC Website on EHR Certification Standards http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt
If you would like to share comments with us regarding this issue, please contact the Reimbursement and Regulatory Policy Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.