CMS EHR Flexibility Proposal Published in Federal Register

A new rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that would allow providers electronic health record (EHR) certification flexibility has been published in the Federal Register. 

Eligible heath care entities would be able to use the 2011 edition of certified EHR technology (CEHRT) for Stage 1 or Stage 2 in 2014.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released the new rule May 20 and it was published in the Federal Register May 23.

The rule also formalizes the agencies’ intention to extend Stage 2 to 2016 and to begin Stage 3 in 2017.

“Many EHR vendors have indicated … that the amount of time available after the publication of the Stage 2 final rule in which to make the required coding changes to enable their EHR products to be certified to the 2014 Edition of EHR certification criteria was much too short,” CMS and ONC say in the rule, adding that many EHR products were certified later than anticipated which has affected the timely deployment of 2014 Edition CEHRT.

“By the end of February 2014, over 350,000 providers had received an EHR incentive payment for adopting, implementing, or upgrading, or for successfully demonstrating meaningful use using 2011 Edition CEHRT,” CMS and ONC say.

The rule would only apply to this year.

“In order to avoid inadvertently incentivizing the purchase of the older product, … a provider would not be able to qualify for a Medicaid incentive payment for 2014 for for adopting, implementing, or upgrading to 2011 Edition CEHRT or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition CEHRT,” CMS and ONC say. 

National coordinator for health information technology Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H, M.Sc. said the new rule is an important step in improving the nation’s health care system.

“The steps we are taking today will give new options to those who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to get the new 2014 Edition technology, including those at high risk, such as smaller providers and rural hospitals,” DeSalvo said in a past news release.

The proposed rule can be accessed here.  

Written by Cassandra Dowell

Cassandra Dowell